Frontiers of economic research

Daron Acemoğlu, Ali Makhdoumi, Azarakhsh Malekian, Asuman Ozdaglar, 18 November 2019

The Cambridge Analytica scandal highlighted the sophisticated ways social media platforms can allow companies to infer information about users and non-users from shared data. This column shows how correlations between platform users’ and non-users’ characteristics mean companies can obtain data at below equilibrium prices, implying welfare inefficiencies for individuals. The authors make some suggestions of regulations that could improve on these data-sharing inefficiencies for users and non-users of the platforms.

Kevin Bryan, 29 October 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded jointly to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. This column outlines their impact on development economics research and practical action to reduce poverty. It also considers some of the critiques of randomised controlled trials as an approach to development.

Hans-Werner Sinn, 25 October 2019

According to the public finance economist Agnar Sandmo, who passed away in August 2019, the ideal economist should be an ‘applied theorist’ who is always ‘concerned with the application of theory to specific issues of economic policy’. As this column written by a friend and colleague of long standing explains, Sandmo himself satisfied these criteria to the highest possible extent. He combined extraordinary theoretical skills with a profound sense of political relevance and the ability to communicate his knowledge in a way accessible to all.

Oriana Bandiera, 21 October 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been jointly awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. This column discusses the new laureates’ vision and their common interest in both understanding and addressing the persistence of poverty and the huge differences in living standards across countries.

Basil Halperin, Ben Ho, Ian Muir, John List, 02 October 2019

Even economies built on market capitalism are built on relationships. And when trust within relationships fray, apologies can help to restore them. This column describes the first large-scale apology experiment done in the field. Using the Uber platform to better understand the costs of apologising, the study asked why and in what cases apologies helped restore relationships. It finds that apologies can indeed work but are sometimes costly.

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