Frontiers of economic research

Samuel Bowles, Alan KIrman, Rajiv Sethi, 08 December 2017

Hayek pioneered the informational view of markets in which prices are messages, and his dynamic vision of the economy provides the basis of an alternative to the equilibrium methodology that today underpins the economics of information. This column argues, however, that these contributions do not support, and may even give reason to doubt, the limited government policies that Hayek advocated.

Sandra Barbosu, Joshua Gans, 30 November 2017

The design of the contribution mechanism for volunteers may affect the sustainability of crowdsourcing platforms. This column investigates how a change to the Zooniverse platform which meant that volunteers could no longer submit incomplete entries affected the number and quality of contributions. The results suggest that the total number of completed tasks by anonymous volunteers increased. The change in contribution design successfully encouraged them to channel their efforts into delivering fewer, higher-quality contributions, as intended.

Diane Coyle, Jonathan Haskel, 21 November 2017

GDP is the default indicator we use to measure how well or bad a country is doing. Diane Coyle and Jonathan Haskel discuss how factors such as technological change, skills, or the economic structure should be taken into account. They jointly won the first Indigo Prize in October 2017, a competition asking participants to think about a new GDP measure.

Interviewer: Tim Phillips

Josh Angrist, Pierre Azoulay, Glenn Ellison, Ryan Hill, Susan Feng Lu, 17 November 2017

Economics, and economists, are often accused of insularity and hubris, and of talking primarily to themselves in their research. This column uses a recent analysis of citations to and from other disciplines to show that this is no longer the case. Economics papers increasingly cite non-economic research, and other disciplines cite economists more often too. The data suggest that the rising quantity and quality of empirical research in economics has increased the relevance of the field to non-economists.

David Autor, Christopher Palmer, Parag Pathak, 16 November 2017

Separating cause from effect is notoriously difficult when it comes to gentrification and neighbourhood amenities, including public safety. This column exploits the sudden ending of a rent control regime in Cambridge, MA to examine whether and by how much gentrification affects crime. In the years immediately following the end of rent control, crime fell significantly more in neighbourhoods that had been heavily rent controlled. However, those neighbourhoods also saw the highest turnover in occupants, suggesting that incumbent renters of in these areas were priced out of their properties and thus missed out on the benefits from gentrification.

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