Frontiers of economic research

Chih-Sheng Hsieh, Michael König, Xiaodong Liu, Christian Zimmermann, 26 November 2018

Through collaboration networks, researchers create spillovers for one another, and also other researchers indirectly linked to them. This column leverages co-authorship network data for economics to study the impact of these spillovers on total research output. Taking account of spillovers, the results show that the most productive researchers are not those with the most citations. Current funding schemes appear to be ill-designed to take advantage of the spillover effects generated in scientific knowledge production networks. 

Monica Andini, Emanuele Ciani, Guido de Blasio, Alessio D'Ignazio, 21 November 2018

The impact of a public policy partly depends on how effective it is in selecting its targets. Machine learning can help by exploiting increasingly available amounts of information. Using data from Italy, this column presents two examples of how to employ machine learning to target those groups that could plausibly gain more from the policy. It illustrates the benefits of machine-learning targeting when compared to the standard practice of employing coarse policy assignment rules based on a few arbitrarily chosen characteristics.

Daniel Bauer, Darius Lakdawalla, Julian Reif, 05 November 2018

People with shorter life expectancies place more value on increases in survival than people who anticipate longer life spans. That may seem obvious, but economists have been making the opposite prediction for decades. This column demonstrates the mistake in the earlier theory and points out important policy implications, including that payers and governments are undervaluing investments in treating highly severe illnesses.

Alex Cukierman, Thomas Lustenberger, 04 November 2018

Almost 60 years ago, John Muth introduced the idea that adaptive expectations are rational if they efficiently use all available information. However, individuals are never fully certain, even ex post, about the permanence of economic developments. Using Israeli data, this explores the implications of this residual uncertainty for market efficiency. The findings point to issues with conventional market efficiency tests where ‘permanent-transitory confusion’ is in effect. 

Jeffrey E. Harris, Mariana Gerstenblüth, Patricia Triunfo, 28 October 2018

The Surgeon General of the United States concluded in 1988 that the nicotine in cigarette smoke is an addictive drug. This column reports on an experiment which revealed that smokers, when confronted with warnings that were repugnant and threatening to many of them, could still make choices consistent with the widely accepted standard rules of rational choice. The model of the two-self economic man offers one explanation for how the participants could engage in such apparently rational behaviour in the face of their addiction.

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