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Interview with David Card and Alan Krueger

I liked this interview with David Card and Alan Krueger which I found here. Some good bits:

Krueger: […] So I encourage economists to use a variety of different research styles. What I think on the margin is more informative for economics is the type of quasi-experimental design that David and I emphasize in the book.

But the other thing I would say, which I think is underappreciated, is the great value of just simple measurement. Pure measurement. And many of the great advances in science, as well as in the social sciences, have come about because we got better telescopes or better microscopes, simply better measurement techniques.

In economics, the national income and product accounts is a good example. Collecting data on time use is another good example. And I think we underinvest in learning methods for collecting data—both survey data, administrative data, data that you can collect naturally through sensors and other means.

This reminds me of a talk by Hal Varian in Bonn last year, in which he said that one of the new frontiers in social science is to make use the data that is created when we use our smartphone or shop online.

And I knew that Scandinavia was famous for its administrative matched data, but I didn’t know that Germany stands out, too:

Krueger: We’ve long been behind Scandinavia, which has provided linked data for decades. And we’re now behind Germany, where a lot of interesting work is being done.

And this was interesting, although a bit general:

Krueger: And we haven’t caught up in terms of training students to collect original survey data. I’ve long thought we should have a course in economic methods — […] — and cover the topics that applied researchers really rely upon, but typically are forced to learn on their own. Index numbers, for example.