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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

The importance of descriptive social science and its relation to causal inference and substantive theories

Here’s the abstract to a recent paper, Escaping Malthus: Economic Growth and Fertility Change in the Developing World, by Shoumitro Chatterjee and Tom Vogl: Following mid-twentieth century predictions of Malthusian catastrophe, fertility in the developing world more than halved, while living standards more than doubled. We analyze how fertility change related to economic growth during […]

Conflicting public attitudes on redistribution

Sociologist David Weakliem wrote recently: A Quinnipiac poll from April 2019: “Do you support or oppose raising the tax rate to 70% on an individual’s income that is over $10 million dollars?” 36% support, 59% oppose A CNN poll from February 2019: “Would you favor or oppose raising the personal income tax rate for those […]

“To Change the World, Behavioral Intervention Research Will Need to Get Serious About Heterogeneity”

Beth Tipton, Chris Bryan, and David Yeager write: The increasing influence of behavioral science in policy has been a hallmark of the past decade, but so has a crisis of confidence in the replicability of behavioral science findings. In this essay, we describe a nascent paradigm shift in behavioral intervention research—a heterogeneity revolution—that we believe […]

Adjusting for Type M error

Erik Drysdale discusses and gives some formulas, demonstrating on an example that will be familiar to regular readers of this blog.

No, I don’t believe that claim based on regression discontinuity analysis that . . .

tl;dr. See point 4 below. Despite the p-less-than-0.05 statistical significance of the discontinuity in the above graph, no, I do not believe that losing a close election causes U.S. governors to die 5-10 years longer, as was claimed in this recently published article. Or, to put it another way: Despite the p-less-than-0.05 statistical significance of […]

This one quick trick will allow you to become a star forecaster

Jonathan Falk points us to this wonderful post by Dario Perkins. It’s all worth a read, but, following Falk, I want to emphasize this beautiful piece of advice, which is #5 on their list of 10 items: How to get attention: If you want to get famous for making big non-consensus calls, without the danger […]

Do we really believe the Democrats have an 88% chance of winning the presidential election?

OK, enough about coronavirus. Time to talk about the election. Dhruv Madeka starts things off with this email: Someone just forwarded me your election model (with Elliott Morris and Merlin Heidemanns) for the Economist. I noticed Biden was already at 84%. I wrote a few years ago about how the time to election factors a […]

Vaccine development as a decision problem

This post by Alex Tabarrok hits all the right notes: At current rates, the US economy is losing about $40 billion a week. Thus, if $20 billion could advance a vaccine by just one week that would be a good deal. . . . It might seem expensive to invest in capacity for a vaccine […]

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 […]