The Scientific Method In Economics

Lynne Kiesling

This is one of the things I love the most about being an economist: from Steve Levitt’s Saturday post on car seats vs. seat belts, in which he posts a link to his new working paper on the question:

Things move quickly in the modern world. Within two hours of posting my academic paper on car seats vs. seat belts on the Freakonomics web page (the first time this paper had seen light of day), another economist found the paper and tested its hypotheses on a very different data set and reported back the results.

Within hours. How beautiful is that? Steve goes on to describe what the other economist, U of C grad student Paul Heaton, did and what he found; I encourage you to read the post for more.

It’s a brilliant illustration of the scientific method at work. Hypothesize, test, replicate, and either falsify or fail to falsify, then go back and recast hypothesis as needed.

One thought on “The Scientific Method In Economics

  1. Auto Safety

    There’s a little blogosphere firestorm going on about Levitt’s conclusion that there isn’t much difference in safety between a child in a car seat, and a child with an (adult) shoulder belt. If you go and read the paper, what

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