Journal of Economic Surveys

Meta-Regression Analysis: A Quantitative Method of Literature Surveys



Abstract.  Pedagogically, literature reviews are instrumental. They summarize the large literature written on a particular topic, give coherence to the complex, often disparate, views expressed about an issue, and serve as a springboard for new ideas. However, literature surveys rarely establish anything approximating unanimous consensus. Ironically, this is just as true for the empirical economic literature. To harmonize this dissonance, we offer a quantitative methodology for reviewing the empirical economic literature. Meta-regression analysis (MRA) is the regression analysis of regression analyses. MRA tends to objectify the review process. It studies the processes that produce empirical economic results as though they were any other social scientific phenomenon. MRA provides a framework for replication and offers a sensitivity analysis for model specification. In this brief essay, we propose a new method of reviewing economic literature, MRA, and discuss its potential.