Frontiers of economic research

Robert French, Philip Oreopoulos, 05 December 2016

Behavioural economics has been playing an increasingly important role in public policy the world over, and Canada is no exception. This column outlines the steps Canada is taking towards incorporating insights from the literature into its policies. It also highlights the emphasis that many agencies in Canada are placing on testing their prospective behavioural interventions through randomised control trials.

Jacques Bughin, Jan Mischke, 28 November 2016

The ‘gig economy’ refers to the independent workforce, including those drawing income from new digital platforms such as Uber and Airbnb. This column uses a survey of 8,000 respondents in the US, the UK, Germany, Sweden, France, and Spain to explode some myths about this relatively new and controversial side of the economy. Among the findings are that existing statistics severely underestimate the size of the gig economy, and that 30% of those working independently do not do so out of choice.

Romesh Vaitilingam, 17 November 2016

It is questionable whether the lessons from the relatively new field of household finance have been reflected to any great extent in the way that the banking and financial services industry works. This column introduces the Think Forward Initiative, which seeks to build a bridge between research and action. A better understanding of how and why people spend, save, invest and hold assets can act as a springboard for action to help consumers.

Angus Deaton, Nancy Cartwright, 09 November 2016

In recent years, the use of randomised controlled trials has spread from labour market and welfare programme evaluation to other areas of economics, and to other social sciences, perhaps most prominently in development and health economics. This column argues that some of the popularity of such trials rests on misunderstandings about what they are capable of accomplishing, and cautions against simple extrapolations from trials to other contexts.

Jeffrey Butler, Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso, 04 November 2016

The economic consequences of individuals being persistently mistaken in their trust beliefs can be as large as those from not going to college. This column sheds light on how trust assessments are made. It documents a large role for moral considerations, which may ultimately contribute to the persistence of mistakes in trusting behaviour.

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