A plea for simple theories

[This is the second part of a fair copy of a recent Twitter thread of mine. I suggest you have a look at part 1 about nonlinear mediation analysis first. Otherwise, it might be hard to follow this post.]

Understanding causal effects is tough, but understanding causal mechanisms is even tougher. When we try to understand mechanisms we move beyond the question whether a certain causal effect exists, and ask how an effect comes about instead. Continue reading A plea for simple theories

Nonlinear Mediation Analysis

This is a fair copy of a recent Twitter thread of mine. I thought it might be interesting to develop my arguments in a bit more detail and preserve them for later use.

Continue reading Nonlinear Mediation Analysis

Why do less and less people start their own business?

There are not many better things (personal things aside) that can happen to a job market candidate than getting mentioned by Tyler Cowen on Marginal Revolution, one of the most widely read economics blogs on the internet. This happened to Nicholas Kozeniauskas from NYU. His paper got judged to be “one of the more important papers of this job market season” by Tyler. And it has indeed many interesting results to offer. Continue reading Why do less and less people start their own business?

Econometrics and the “not invented here” syndrome: suggestive evidence from the causal graph literature

[This post requires some knowledge of directed acyclic graphs (DAG) and causal inference. Providing an introduction to the topic goes beyond the scope of this blog though. But you can have a look at a recent paper of mine in which I describe this method in more detail.]

Graphical models of causation, most notably associated with the name of computer scientist Judea Pearl, received a lot of pushback from the grandees of econometrics. Heckman had his famous debate with Pearl, arguing that economics looks back on its own tradition of causal inference, going back to Haavelmo, and that we don’t need DAGs. Continue reading Econometrics and the “not invented here” syndrome: suggestive evidence from the causal graph literature

Smithian vs. Schumpeterian Growth

In this quote from his latest book Joel Mokyr contrasts two important views on the origins of economic growth:

“[…] The difference between “Smithian” and “Schumpeterian” growth is that for the former, exchange and cooperation based on trust or respect for the law are treated as a game between individuals whereas the essence of Schumpeterian growth is based on the manipulation of natural regularities and phenomena and thus au fond should be seen as a game against nature.”

“Smithian” refers to Adam Smith, of course, who is seen as the founding father of modern economics. Continue reading Smithian vs. Schumpeterian Growth

Dear European Research Council, evaluating grant programs is harder than you think

Today the European Research Council tweeted about a study that supposedly shows how succesful their research grants are.

ERC grants provide a lot of money to upcoming and established researchers who are based in Europe to carry out larger research projects and agendas. Of course we would like to know whether the money is well spent. Continue reading Dear European Research Council, evaluating grant programs is harder than you think