Social Media for Academic Economists

The Graduate Students Association of the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell had invited me to talk last Friday about how academic economists can use social media to promote their research.

Here are my slides for that talk, in which I explain why I tweet and blog, and provide some tips for those who are thinking about doing the same.

Speaking of the Dyson School’s graduate students, some of them have just started a new blog on international development called Economics that Really Matters, in a nod to Theodore Schultz’s 1979 Nobel lecture. I highly recommend that you check it out if you have an interest agriculture, development, and food policy. You can check it out here.

More on the Cookbook Approach to Econometrics

Fellow agricultural and applied economist Matt Bogard had a very nice post last weekend discussing my own post last month on the cookbook approach to econometrics:

It is the gap between theory and practice [of econometrics] that has given me a ton of grief in the last few years. After spending hours and hours in graduate school working through tons of theorems and proofs to basically restate everything I learned as an undergraduate in a more rigorous tone, I found that when it came to actually doing econometrics I wasn’t much the better, or sometimes wondered if maybe I even regressed. [Note: Ha! – MFB.] At every corner was a different challenge that seemed at odds with everything I learned in grad school. Doing econometrics felt like running in water. As Peter Kennedy states in the applied econometrics chapter of his popular A Guide to Econometrics, “econometrics is much easier without data.” As Angrist and Pischke state: “if applied econometrics were easy theorists would do it.”

“The Determinants of…”: How Not to Do Social Science

"Bro, this elixir will guarantee that my predicted values are not outside of [0,1]."
“Bro, this elixir will totally guarantee that my predicted values are in the [0,1] interval.”
A nice post by Frances Woolley titled “Economists Aren’t in the Prediction Business–and That’s a Good Thing” over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative reminded┬áme of how much I dislike “determinants” papers, and so I thought I should write a short post about the topic.

I frequently run into “determinants” papers. Typically, a student in the second-year qualifying research paper seminar I teach in our PhD program will submit a paper proposal that is a “determinants” paper. More frequently, however, I see “determinants” papers when new manuscripts are assigned to me for handling at Food Policy.

“What’s a ‘determinants’ paper?,” you ask? A “determinants” paper is a paper in which the authors do not specifically try to answer a question of the form “Does X cause Y?” Continue reading