Monday, January 08, 2018

13 economists on the research that shaped our world in 2017

From Quartz. Excerpts (with just my three favorites listed-you can see all 13 if you click on the link):
"At the end of every year, culture critics get to compile best of the year lists. But why should they have all the fun? Just like films and albums, economics research deserves a little reflection. To identify the research that mattered most in 2017, Quartz decided to call in some help, enlisting some of the greatest minds in economics today, including two Nobel prize winners.

We asked these economists which study they thought was the most important or intriguing of 2017, along with their thoughts on the research. The chosen studies capture the concerns of 2017, with subjects ranging from opioids to gender discrimination to globalization.

Here are their picks:

Accounting for Growth in the Age of the Internet: The Importance of Output-Saving Technical Change (pdf) by Charles Hulten and Leonard Nakamura

Main finding: Living standards may be growing faster than GDP growth.
Nominating economist:
Diane Coyle, University of Manchester
Specialization: Economic statistics and the digital economy
Why? “This paper tries to formalize the intuition that there is a growing gap between the standard measure of GDP, capturing economic activity, and true economic welfare and to draw out some of the implications.”

Decriminalizing Indoor Prostitution: Implications for Sexual Violence and Public Health (pdf) by Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah

Main finding: Decriminalizing sex work makes it safer and more common.
Nominating economist: Jennifer Doleac, University of Virgina
Specialization: Criminal justice and public policy
Why? “This paper uses an unusual natural experiment in Rhode Island to measure the effect of decriminalizing indoor prostitution on public health, and the findings will surprise many… When indoor prostitution suddenly became legal, reported rape offenses fell by 30% and female gonorrhea incidence fell by over 40%. Perhaps it’s time to rethink our current policies in this area.” [Indoor prostitution includes brothel workers and call girls. It does not include street solicitors.]

The Macroeconomic Impact of Microeconomic Shocks (pdf) by David Baqaee and Emmanuel Farhi

Main finding: Shocks to the economy in certain sectors can have larger effects on the entire economy than previously thought.
Nominating economist: Jean Tirole, Toulouse School of Economics, winner of the 2014 Nobel prize in economics
Specialization: Industrial organization
Why? “Baqaee and Farhi open up the black box of aggregate production by modeling the network linkages between firms and sectors, and demonstrate the emergence of important nonlinearities. This discovery has far-ranging macroeconomic implications, from the microeconomic origins of business cycles to the identification of key sectors with a disproportionate influence on the overall economy. For example, it leads to a radical revaluation, by a full factor of four, of the macroeconomic impact of the 1970s oil shocks. This opens up a fascinating research direction to build a more realistic macroeconomics, from the grounds up, with realistic microeconomic foundations.”"

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