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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

Laplace’s Theories of Cognitive Illusions, Heuristics and Biases

A few years ago, Josh “Don’t call him ‘hot hand’” Miller read Laplace’s classic book on probability theory and noticed that it anticipated much of the “heuristics and biases” literature (also called “cognitive illusions” or “behavioral economics”) of the past fifty years. We wrote up our ideas and, years later, our article made it into […]

Years of Life Lost due to coronavirus

This post is by Phil Price, not Andrew. A few days ago I posted some thoughts about the coronavirus response, one of which was that I wanted to see ‘years of life lost’ in addition to (or even instead of) ‘deaths’. Mendel pointed me to a source of data for Florida cases and deaths, which […]

Here’s what academic social, behavioral, and economic scientists should be working on right now.

In a recent comment thread on the lack of relevance of academic social and behavioral science to the current crisis, Terry writes: We face a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the existing literature gives mostly vapid-sounding guidance. Take this gem at the beginning of the article: One of the central emotional responses during a pandemic is fear. […]

“Positive Claims get Publicity, Refutations do Not: Evidence from the 2020 Flu”

Part 1 Andrew Lilley, Gianluca Rinaldi, and Matthew Lilley write: You might be familiar with a recent paper by Correira, Luck, and Verner who argued that cities that enacted non-pharmaceutical interventions earlier / for longer during the Spanish Flu of 1918 had higher subsequent economic growth. The paper has had extensive media coverage – e.g. […]

Best econ story evah

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Here’s a joke we used to tell about someone in econ grad school, a few decades ago. Two economists were walking down the street. The first one says: “Isn’t that a $20 bill?” The second one says: “Can’t be. If it were, somebody would have picked it up […]

Information or Misinformation During a Pandemic: Comparing the effects of following Nassim Taleb, Richard Epstein, or Cass Sunstein on twitter.

So, there’s this new study doing the rounds. Some economists decided to study the twitter followers of prominent coronavirus skeptics and fearmongers, and it seems that followers of Nassim Taleb were more likely to shelter in place, and less like to die of coronavirus, than followers of Richard Epstein or Cass Sunstein. And the differences […]

“The Evidence and Tradeoffs for a ‘Stay-at-Home’ Pandemic Response: A multidisciplinary review examining the medical, psychological, economic and political impact of ‘Stay-at-Home’ implementation in America”

Will Marble writes: I’m a Ph.D. student in political science at Stanford. Along with colleagues from the Stanford medical school, law school, and elsewhere, we recently completed a white paper evaluating the evidence for and tradeoffs involved with shelter-in-place policies. To our knowledge, our paper contains the widest review of the relevant covid-19 research. It […]

100 Things to Know, from Lane Kenworthy

The sociologist has this great post: Here are a hundred things worth knowing about our world and about the United States. Because a picture is worth quite a few words and providing information in graphical form reduces misperceptions, I [Kenworthy] present each of them via a chart, with some accompanying text. This is great stuff. […]

Woof! for descriptive statistics

Gary Smith points to this news article in the Economist, “WOOF, CAKE, BOOM: stocks with catchy tickers beat the market,” which reports: In a study published in 2009 by Gary Smith, Alex Head and Julia Wilson of Pomona College in California, a group of people were asked to pick American public companies with “clever” tickers. […]

The Paterno Defence: Gladwell’s Tipping Point?

“We need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that sometimes big changes follow small events, and that sometimes these changes can happen very quickly. . . . The Tipping Point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” — Malcolm Gladwell, 2000. Gladwell’s recent book got some negative reviews. No big deal. […]

This study could be just fine, or not. Maybe I’ll believe it if there’s an independent preregistered replication.

David Allison sent along this article, Sexually arousing ads induce sex-specific financial decisions in hungry individuals, by Tobias Otterbringa and Yael Sela, and asked whether I buy it. I replied that maybe I’ll believe it if there’s an independent preregistered replication. I’ve just seen too many of these sort of things to ever believe them […]

Intended consequences are the worst

I saw this news story by Jesse Drucker and Eric Lipton, headlined, “Meant to Lift Poor Areas, Tax Break is Boon to Rich.” The news article is informative, and the story it tells is horrifying. Beyond all that, I’m bothered by the headline, as it seems that the scamtastic aspect of this tax benefit was […]

Advice for a Young Economist at Heart

Shoumitro Chatterjee, who sent me that paper we discussed yesterday, writes: I [Chatterjee] recently finished my PhD in economics from Princeton and am starting as junior faculty at Penn State. I do applied work on development using observational and administrative data, and I have a few questions: 1. Is there a difference between multiple comparisons […]

The fallacy of the excluded rationality

Malcolm Bull writes: Thanks to the work of behavioural economists there is a lot of experimental evidence to show what many of us would have suspected anyway: that people are not the rational, utility-maximisers of neoclassical economics, but loss-averse sentimentalists who, faced with even the simplest cognitive problem, prefer dodgy short cuts to careful analysis. […]

The latest Perry Preschool analysis: Noisy data + noisy methods + flexible summarizing = Big claims

Dean Eckles writes: Since I know you’re interested in Heckman’s continued analysis of early childhood interventions, I thought I’d send this along: The intervention is so early, it is in their parents’ childhoods. See the “Perry Preschool Project Outcomes in the Next Generation” press release and the associated working paper. The estimated effects are huge: […]

Pocket Kings by Ted Heller

So. I’m most of the way through Pocket Kings by Ted Heller, author of the classic Slab Rat. And I keep thinking: Ted Heller is the same as Sam Lipsyte. Do these two guys know each other? They’re both sons of famous writers (OK, Heller’s dad is more famous than Lipsyte’s, but still). They write […]

How to get out of the credulity rut (regression discontinuity edition): Getting beyond whack-a-mole

This one’s buggin me. We’re in a situation now with forking paths in applied-statistics-being-done-by-economists where we were, about ten years ago, in applied-statistics-being-done-by-psychologists. (I was going to use the terms “econometrics” and “psychometrics” here, but that’s not quite right, because I think these mistakes are mostly being made, by applied researchers in economics and psychology, […]

Four projects in the intellectual history of quantitative social science

1. The rise and fall of game theory. My impression is that game theory peaked in the late 1950s. Two classics from that area are Philip K. Dick’s “Solar Lottery” and R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa’s “Games and Decisions.” The latter is charming in its retro attitude that all that remained were some minor […]

No, I don’t think that this study offers good evidence that installing air filters in classrooms has surprisingly large educational benefits.

In a news article on Vox, entitled “Installing air filters in classrooms has surprisingly large educational benefits,” Matthew Yglesias writes: An emergency situation that turned out to be mostly a false alarm led a lot of schools in Los Angeles to install air filters, and something strange happened: Test scores went up. By a lot. […]

Royal Society spam & more

Just a rant about spam (and more spam) from pay-to-publish and closed-access journals. Nothing much to see here. The latest offender is from something called the “Royal Society.” I don’t even know to which king or queen this particular society owes allegiance, because they have a .org URL. Exercising their royal prerogative, they created an […]