Economics - General Experimental

Is Economics a Science?

That is the question addressed by in a paper by Colin Camerer and co-authors in Science. The authors repeated 18 economics experiments conducted in a laboratory setting. These articles were published in leading economics journals including the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics between 2011 and 2014.

As The Economist reports, they found that

For 11 of the 18 papers (ie, 61% of them) Dr Camerer and his colleagues found a broadly similar effect to whatever the original authors had reported. That is below the 92% replication rate they would have expected had all the original studies been as statistically robust as the authors claimed—but by the standards of medicine, psychology and genetics it is still impressive.

One theory put forward by Dr Camerer and his colleagues to explain this superior hit rate is that economics may still benefit from the zeal of the newly converted. They point out that, when the field was in its infancy, experimental economists were keen that others should adopt their methods. To that end, they persuaded economics journals to devote far more space to printing information about methods, including explicit instructions and raw data sets, than sciences journals normally would.

Maybe Economics is a science after all.


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