I’m a consultant economist focused on re-analyzing empirical social science research. I check if published findings are reliable by testing for robustness to alternative statistical methods or data sources.
Why replication? I care about truth-seeking and having well-functioning scientific institutions. It’s a waste if scientists sacrifice rigor to publish and get tenure, and we can improve science by making replication a regular part of the scientific process. Plus, academics have little incentive to do replications, so I’m filling the gap.
Previously I have worked for Open Philanthropy and on my own projects. Please get in touch if you have research you’d like to see scrutinized (or original research you want me to do).
Here are some of my past projects:
Do bigger cities cause more innovation? (html, pdf) Moretti (2021) studies agglomeration effects for innovation, where being in bigger cities causes inventors to patent more. The main results use OLS with fixed effects, and an event study (using inventors who change cities) and instrumental variables strategy (using size of tech clusters in other cities) support a causal interpretation. I show that both the event study and IV results are caused by coding errors.
How does racial violence affect patenting by Black inventors? (html, pdf) I reanalyze Cook (2014) and show that the results don’t hold up. The paper claims that racial violence reduces patenting by Black inventors, using time series and panel data regressions. However, the time series results go away when using an alternative patent variable, while the panel data results are based on a dataset where most observations are missing. I use the timing of patent applications and grants to perform a more nuanced test of Cook’s hypothesis, and the predictions are falsified.
Are Chinese mayors promoted based on GDP growth? (html, pdf) The literature on meritocratic promotion claims that Chinese officials are promoted based on GDP growth. This system of tournament competition generates incentives for politicians to boost growth, and hence gives an explanation for China’s rapic economic growth. I reanalyze three papers on meritocratic promotion of prefecture leaders, and find that the results are not robust to alternative control variables, regression specifications, and outcome variables. This literature gives no reason to think that GDP growth is an important determinant of promotion.