“What Do Economists Know?” Not As Much As They Could

[From the article “What Do Economists Know?” by Russ Roberts at the website Medium] In this article, Russ Roberts argues that economists don’t know as much as everybody, especially economists!, would like them to know. However, there are some things that would improve the situation.  One of those things is that researchers should make their data available to others.  
Roberts discusses Jonathan Rothwell recent re-analysis of David Autor’s research on the economic impact of US trade with China.  He writes: “Rothwell’s analysis purporting to refute Autor et al was done with Autor et al’s data. Sharing data is honorable because data often takes work before you can use it and sharing allows others to profit without having to do the work. But all empirical claims should be accompanied by sharing of data along with all of the steps that were necessary to get the data into shape. The kitchen of econometrics can be an unsightly place. But everything that goes on in the kitchen should be publicly available in order to reassure the diners. Again, people can lie or hide things, but at least we should make clear what is the ideal.
Economists may not know that much.  But they could know more if they would get better at sharing their data.  To read Russ Roberts’ article, click here.

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