This setting lets you change the way you view articles. You can choose to have articles open in a dialog window, a new tab, or directly in the same window.
Open in Dialog
Open in New Tab
Open in same window

Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 24 No. 2 (Spring 2010)

Expand

Quick Tools:

Print Article Summary
Export Citation
Sign up for Email Alerts Follow us on Twitter

Explore:

JEP - All Issues


Tantalus on the Road to Asymptopia

Article Citation

Leamer, Edward E. 2010. "Tantalus on the Road to Asymptopia." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(2): 31-46.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.2.31

Abstract

My first reaction to "The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics," authored by Joshua D. Angrist and Jörn-Steffen Pischke, was: Wow! This paper makes a stunningly good case for relying on purposefully randomized or accidentally randomized experiments to relieve the doubts that afflict inferences from nonexperimental data. On further reflection, I realized that I may have been overcome with irrational exuberance. Moreover, with this great honor bestowed on my "con" article, I couldn't easily throw this child of mine overboard. As Angrist and Pischke persuasively argue, either purposefully randomized experiments or accidentally randomized "natural" experiments can be extremely helpful, but Angrist and Pischke seem to me to overstate the potential benefits of the approach. I begin with some thoughts about the inevitable limits of randomization, and the need for sensitivity analysis in this area, as in all areas of applied empirical work. I argue that the recent financial catastrophe is a powerful illustration of the fact that extrapolating from natural experiments will inevitably be hazardous. I discuss how the difficulties of applied econometric work cannot be evaded with econometric innovations, offering as examples some under-recognized difficulties with instrumental variables and robust standard errors. I conclude with comments about the shortcomings of an experimentalist paradigm as applied to macroeconomics, and some warnings about the willingness of applied economists to apply push-button methodologies without sufficient hard thought regarding their applicability and shortcomings.

Article Full-Text Access

Full-text Article (Complimentary)

Authors

Leamer, Edward E. (UCLA)

JEL Classifications

B41: Economic Methodology
C01: Econometrics

Comments

View Comments on This Article (0) | Login to post a comment


Journal of Economic Perspectives


Quick Tools:

Sign up for Email Alerts

Follow us on Twitter

Subscription Information
(Institutional Administrator Access)

Explore:

JEP - All Issues

Virtual Field Journals


AEA Member Login:


AEAweb | AEA Journals | Contact Us