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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

Votes vs. $

Carlos Cruz writes:

External vs. internal validity of causal inference from natural experiments: The example of charter school lottery studies

Alex Hoffman writes: I recently was discussing/arguing about the value of charter schools lottery studies. I suggested that their validity was questionable because of all the data that they ignore. (1) They ignore all charter schools (and their students) that are not so oversubscribed that they need to use lotteries for admission. (2) They ignore […]

Macbook Pro (16″ 2019) quick review

I just upgraded yesterday to one of the new 2019 Macbook Pro 16″ models: Macbook Pro (16″, 2019), 3072 x 1920 pixel display, 2.4 GHz 8-core i9, 64GB 2667 MHz DDR4 memory, 2880 x 1800 pixel display, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, 1 TB solid-state drive US$4120 list including Apple […]

“Deep Origins” and spatial correlations

Morgan Kelly writes: Back in 2013 you had a column in Chance magazine on the Ashraf-Galor “Out of Africa” paper which claims that genetic diversity determines modern income. That paper is part of a much large literature in economics on Persistence or “Deep Origins” that shows how medieval pogroms prefigure Nazi support, adoption of the […]

Econometrics postdoc and computational statistics postdoc openings here in the Stan group at Columbia

Andrew and I are looking to hire two postdocs to join the Stan group at Columbia starting January 2020. I want to emphasize that these are postdoc positions, not programmer positions. So while each position has a practical focus, our broader goal is to carry out high-impact, practical research that pushes the frontier of what’s […]

What happens when frauds are outed because of whistleblowing?

Ashwin Malshe: I would like to bring to your attention a recent controversy in accounting research. It relates to how extreme values may drive results in observational studies. However, this issue is more complex in this specific case because the event (corporate whistleblowing) is rather rare, showing up only about 20% of the time in […]

Stan saves Australians $20 billion

Jim Savage writes: Not sure if you knew, but Stan was used in the Australian Productivity Commission’s review of the Australian retirement savings system. Their review will likely affect the regulation on $2 trillion of retirement savings, possibly saving Australians around $20-50 billion in fees over the next decade. OK, we can now officially say […]

Dow Jones probability calculation

Here’s a cute one for your intro probability class. Karen Langley from the Wall Street Journal asks: What is the probability of the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing unchanged from the day before, as it did yesterday? To answer this question we need to know two things: 1. How much does the Dow Jones average […]

Participate in Brazilian Reproducibility Initiative—even if you don’t live in South America!

Anna Dreber writes: There’s a big reproducibility initiative in Brazil on biomedical research led by Olavo Amaral and others, which is an awesome project where they are replicating 60 studies in Brazilian biomedical research. We (as usual lots of collaborators) are having a prediction survey and prediction markets for these replications – would it be […]

When Prediction Markets Fail

A few years ago, David Rothschild and I wrote: Prediction markets have a strong track record and people trust them. And that actually may be the problem right now. . . . a trader can buy a contract on an outcome, such as the Democratic nominee to win the 2016 presidential election, and it will […]

Have prices have risen more quickly for people at the bottom of the income distribution than for those at the top? Lefty window-breakers wait impatiently while economists struggle to resolve this dispute.

Palko points us to this post by Mike Konczal pointing to this news article by Annie Lowrey reporting on research by Christopher Wimer, Sophie Collyer, and Xavier Jaravel finding that “prices have risen more quickly for people at the bottom of the income distribution than for those at the top.” This new result counters an […]

The dropout rate in his survey is over 60%. What should he do? I suggest MRP.

Alon Honig writes: I work for a cpg company that conducts longitudinal surveys for analysis of customer behavior. In particular they wanted to know how people are interacting with our product. Unfortunately the designers of these surveys put so many questions (100+) that the dropout rate (those that did not complete the survey) was over […]

The climate economics echo chamber: Gremlins and the people (including a Nobel prize winner) who support them

Jay Coggins, a professor of applied economics at the university of Minnesota, writes in with some thoughts about serious problems of within the field of environmental economics: Your latest on Tol [a discussion of a really bad paper he published in The Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, “the official journal of the Association of […]

Kool-aid != Dogfood, and Certainty is no substitute for knowledge.

Palko quotes from this news article by Shirin Ghaffary quoting Marcelo Claure, the new executive chairman of the recent Ponzi scheme WeWork. Here’s Claure, in a speech to WeWork employees: [W]e got to drink our own Kool-aid, we got to make sure that if we’re selling this magic to others, we got to have this […]

Givewell is hiring; wants someone to help figure out how to give well; Bayesian methods may be relevant here

Josh Rosenberg writes: GiveWell ( is a nonprofit that does in-depth research to direct funds to outstanding organizations helping the global poor. In 2018, we directed more than $140 million to our recommendations. We are recruiting researchers at varying levels of seniority to identify the giving opportunities which can most cost-effectively improve the lives of […]

We’re hiring an econ postdoc!

It’s for hierarchical modeling for policy analysis in Stan. We’re really excited about this project. Will share more details soon, but wanted to get this out right away.

“The Role of Nature versus Nurture in Wealth and Other Economic Outcomes and Behaviors”

Sandra Black, Paul, Devereux, Petter Lundborg, and Kaveh Majlesi write: Wealth is highly correlated between parents and their children; however, little is known about the extent to which these relationships are genetic or determined by environmental factors. We use administrative data on the net wealth of a large sample of Swedish adoptees merged with similar […]

Statistician positions at RAND

Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar writes: I am asking for your help in identifying qualified candidates for Ph.D. Statistician openings at the RAND Corporation with multiple location options (Santa Monica, CA, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, and Boston, MA). RAND was established almost 70 years ago to strengthen public policy through research and analysis. Over seven decades, our research […]

Automation and judgment, from the rational animal to the irrational machine

Virgil Kurkjian writes: I was recently going through some of your recent blog posts and came across Using numbers to replace judgment. I recently wrote something about legible signaling which I think helps shed some light on exactly what causes the bureaucratization of science and maybe what we can do about it. In short I […]

My talk at the Brookings Institution this Fri 11am

The replication crisis in science: Does it matter for policy? Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University I argue that policy analysts should care about the replication crisis for three reasons: (1) High-profile policy claims have been systematically exaggerated; (2) This has implications for how to conduct and interpret new […]