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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

EU proposing to regulate the use of Bayesian estimation

The European Commission just released their Proposal for a Regulation on a European approach for Artificial Intelligence. They finally get around to a definition of “AI” on page 60 of the report (link above): ‘artificial intelligence system’ (AI system) means software that is developed with one or more of the techniques and approaches listed in […]

Cancer patients be criming? Some discussion and meta-discussion of statistical modeling, causal inference, and social science:

1. Meta-story Someone pointed me to a news report of a statistics-based research claim and asked me what I thought of it. I read through the press summary and the underlying research paper. At this point, it’s natural to anticipate one of two endpoints: I like the paper, or I don’t. The results seem reasonable […]

In making minimal corrections and not acknowledging that he made these errors, Rajan is dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying problem, which is that he’s processing recent history via conventional wisdom.

Raghuram Rajan is an academic and policy star, University of Chicago professor, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and former chief economic advisor to the government of India, and featured many times in NPR and other prestige media. He also appears to be in the habit of telling purportedly data-backed stories that aren’t […]

More on that credulity thing

I see five problems here that together form a feedback loop with bad consequences. Here are the problems: 1. Irrelevant or misunderstood statistical or econometric theory; 2. Poorly-executed research; 3. Other people in the field being loath to criticize, taking published or even preprinted claims as correct until proved otherwise; 4. Journalists taking published or […]

Understanding the value of bloc voting, using the Congressional Progressive Caucus as an example:

Daniel Stock writes: I’m a public policy PhD student, interested in economic policy and a bit of political science. I recently saw that the Congressional Progressive Caucus instituted bloc voting rules a few months ago: if at least two thirds of them agree on a bill or amendment, then all CPC members are bound to […]

Call for a moratorium on the use of the term “prisoner’s dilemma”

Palko writes: I’m not sure what the best way to get the ball rolling here would be (perhaps a kickstarter?) but we need to have a strictly enforced rule that no journalist or pundit is allowed to mention the prisoner’s dilemma for the next five or ten years, however long it takes to learn to […]

Many years ago, when he was a baby economist . . .

Jonathan Falk writes: Many years ago, when I was a baby economist, a fight broke out in my firm between two economists. There was a question as to whether a particular change in the telecommunications laws had spurred productivity improvements or not. There a trend of x% per year in productivity improvements that had gone […]

Estimating the college wealth premium: Not so easy

Dale Lehman writes: Here’s the article referenced on Marginal Revolution today. I thought it might be of interest and worth blogging about. It is quite thorough and fairly complex. The results are quite striking – and important. My big concern relates to a critical variable – financial literacy. On page 14 they claim that it […]

Substack.

I read this interesting article by Anna Wiener about Substack, which is a sort of branded blogging and RSS platform that allows writers to charge subscriptions. The topic was interesting to me in part because I’ve been blogging for a long time and in part because as a citizen and consumer of news I am […]

Postdoctoral opportunity with Sarah Cowan and Jennifer Hill: causal inference for Universal Basic Income (UBI)

See below from Sarah Cowan: I write to announce the launch of the Cash Transfer Lab. Our mission is to build an evidence base regarding cash transfer policies like a Universal Basic Income. We answer the fundamental questions of how a Universal Basic Income policy would transform American families, communities and economies. The first major […]

Regression discontinuity analysis is often a disaster. So what should you do instead? Here’s my recommendation:

Summary If you have an observational study with outcome y treatment variable z and pre-treatment predictors X, and treatment assignment depends only on X, then you can estimate the average causal effect by regressing y on z and X and looking at the coefficient of z. If there is lack of complete overlap in X […]

Bayesian methods and what they offer compared to classical econometrics

A well-known economist who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Can you write about this agent? He’s getting exponentially big on Twitter. The link is to an econometrician, Jeffrey Wooldridge, who writes: Many useful procedures—shrinkage, for example—can be derived from a Bayesian perspective. But those estimators can be studied from a frequentist perspective, and no strong […]

This one pushes all my buttons

August Wartin writes: Just wanted to make you aware of this ongoing discussion about an article in JPE: It’s the same professor Lidbom that was involved in this discussion a few years ago (I believe you mentioned something about it on your blog). Indeed, we blogged it here. Here’s the abstract of Lidbom’s more recent […]

Here is how you should title the next book you write.

I was talking with someone about book titles. I liked the title Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State when I came up with it, but the book did not sell as well as I hoped (not that I thought it would sell enough to make me lots of money; I’m just using sales […]

“Where in your education were you taught about intellectual honesty?”

Haynes Goddard asks: Here is the question I want to put to this blog’s readers. Where in your education were you taught about intellectual honesty? I don’t mean academic dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism which are actively controlled. I am told it is covered in classes on critical thinking, mainly in Philosophy Depts. Where […]

The Data Detective, by Tim Harford

Economics reporter Tim Harford came out with this new book connecting three topics: – The understanding of statistical evidence and uncertainty, – The realization that lots of published and publicized social science can’t be trusted, – Our political discourse that is heavy on lies and light on trust. What Harford says makes sense: statistical reasoning […]

What about that new paper estimating the effects of lockdowns etc?

A couple people pointed me to this article, “Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19,” which reports: The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. . . . We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs […]

Megan Higgs (statistician) and Anna Dreber (economist) on how to judge the success of a replication

The discussion started with this comment from Megan Higgs regarding a recent science replication initiative: I [Higgs] was immediately curious about their criteria for declaring a study replicated. In a quick skim of the info in the google form, here it is: In the survey of beliefs, you will be asked for (a) the probability […]

Does regression discontinuity (or, more generally, causal identification + statistical significance) make you gullible?

Yes basically. This one’s pretty much a perfect example of overfitting, finding a discontinuity out of noise, in that if you just draw a smooth line through each graph, it actually looks better than the discontinuous version. We see this a lot: There’s no discontinuity in the data, but it’s possible to make a discontinuity […]

No, this senatorial stock-picking study does not address concerns about insider trading:

Jonathan Falk writes: As you have tirelessly promoted, a huge problem with NHST is that “insignificant” effects on average can mask, via attenuation bias, important changes in subgroups. Further, as you have somewhat less tirelessly pointed out, you need much bigger samples to reliably see anything in subgroups, particularly when (ok.. you’re back to your […]

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