As I head down to Austin for the First Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, my travel reading includes this recently posted NBER working paper by Harvard economist Edward Glaeser: "Researcher Incentives and Empirical Methods. " Here is the abstract.
Economists are quick to assume opportunistic behavior in almost every walk of life other than our own. Our empirical methods are based on assumptions of human behavior that would not pass muster in any of our models. The solution to this problem is not to expect a mass renunciation of data mining, selective data cleaning or opportunistic methodology selection, but rather to follow Leamer's lead in designing and using techniques that anticipate the behavior of optimizing researchers. In this essay, I make ten points about a more economic approach to empirical methods and suggest paths for methodological progress.