Frontiers of economic research

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.

Jason Baron, Max Gross, 12 June 2022

There is a well-documented correlation between foster care and crime, but little evidence on the long-term consequences of placing a child into foster care or leaving them with their family. Using data from the state of Michigan, this column estimates the causal effect of foster care placement on adult crime. Foster care placement reduced later-in-life crime, especially for male children and younger children. Foster care protects children from subsequent abuse and neglect and improves school performance. Birth parents also make improvements while their children are temporarily in foster care.

Andreas Ferrara, Joung Yeob Ha, Randall Walsh, 18 May 2022

Researchers typically collect newspaper-based data for use as outcome, treatment, or control variables in statistical analysis. This column argues that data generated from historical newspaper articles can also be used as a low-cost alternative for resolving measurement errors. The authors illustrate their framework by replicating two recent studies of how the boll weevil – a beetle that infests cotton crops – affected economic outcomes in the US South from 1892 to 1922. The newspaper-based replications increase the effect sizes and strengthen the results obtained in both papers using US Department of Agriculture maps. 

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