Frontiers of economic research

Christopher Rauh, Laëtitia Renée, 03 July 2022

Parental time invested in the early years has an outsized impact on a child’s future. But measuring the effects of different parenting styles remains an elusive task, in part because self-reported survey questions are susceptible to misreporting bias. This column uses unsupervised machine learning to measure parenting styles applied to a panel of Canadian children from age five months to just over two years. The topic model classifies parenting into two styles – warm and cold – and finds that children of ‘warm’ parents achieve higher cognitive and non-cognitive scores at later ages. 

Felix Chopra, Ingar Haaland, Chris Roth, Andreas Stegmann, 03 July 2022

There are growing concerns about publication bias in academic studies, particularly against papers with small effects that are not statistically significant. Using a large-scale survey of academic economists, this column finds a substantial perceived penalty against null results. Respondents believe studies with a null result have a lower chance of being published and perceive those studies as having lower quality. Further analysis suggests the communication of statistical uncertainty and perceptions of statistical precision are important factors affecting the null result penalty, but finds no evidence of a bias towards surprising findings in the publication process.

Hiroshi Morita, Shota Araki, 26 June 2022

Our behaviours are highly influenced by social pressure. This column takes as a natural experiment the 2020 season of the Japanese professional football league, which held matches without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to examine whether the presence of spectators puts pressure on referees’ decisions. The authors find that the home team advantage is real: the number of fouls decided against the home team decreased significantly in matches with spectators. The absolute number of home-team supporters mattered.

John Fernald, Robert Inklaar, Bart van Ark, 24 June 2022

Dale Jorgenson, who passed away in June 2022, was a central contributor to a wide range of economic and policy issues over a long and productive career. This column, written by three of his friends and colleagues, outlines some of his most notable intellectual contributions, including changing how economists think about investment, implementing better ways to measure productivity, and pushing national accountants to update how they measure economies around the world. The authors note that a characteristic of his work was a tight integration of economic theory, appropriate data that matches the theory, and sound econometrics.

David de la Croix, Mara Vitale, 15 June 2022

Academia has seen remarkable progress in gender equality over the last 50 years, but has yet to achieve parity – particularly in economics and STEM disciplines. This column documents the participation of women in European academia from the first universities to the eve of the Industrial Revolution, with unexpected results. Of the 108 women who taught at universities or belonged to academies, most were in Catholic southern Europe, challenging the idea that Protestantism was more liberal than Catholicism, at least where the participation of women in upper-tail human capital was concerned.

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