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scott cunningham @causalinf
, 7 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Nice thread about how economics-as-science works in 2018. Also worth pointing out that these debates sometimes are very thin - here it is three teams. (There’s actually a fourth by Jennifer Trudeau who technically published the first paper on the subject. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.100…
Contrast that with minimum wage is hundreds, and STILL there is disagreement. Partly this is a function of the number of treatments that researchers can work with. The US government, States and jurisdictions are constantly implementing hikes in the minimum wage, sometimes large
ones. Plus as an anti-poverty program, there’s a number of different outcomes the minimum wage can impact - Crime for instance, as well as legal labor supply. As the bumper sticker on my car says, federalism yields a bounty of opportunities for researchers. But something like
“16 and Pregnant” is different. The event happened essentially once in history, and therefore researchers have to figure out ways to exploit the single event. That seems to me to put a limit on how many studies can be done. The concept of “replication” itself seems to break down
to a degree, even. People could I guess collect the data over again and go about addressing the question in some way these other four teams haven’t, but maybe after sifting through these four teams papers, there genuinely isn’t a margin for improvement. Then we can’t replicate
any more from this show. That’s the problem with natural experiments as opposed to randomized field or lab experiments - the success of replication is very different. A topic can get saturated not out of boredom, but for no other reason than the margins for a contribution itself
diminishes.
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