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Journal of Economic Surveys

ARE ALL ECONOMIC FACTS GREATLY EXAGGERATED? THEORY COMPETITION AND SELECTIVITY

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Abstract

Abstract..There is growing concern and mounting evidence of selectivity in empirical economics. Most empirical economic literatures have a truncated distribution of results. The aim of this paper is to explore the link between publication selectivity and theory contests. This link is confirmed through the analysis of 87 distinct empirical economics literatures, involving more than three and a half thousand separate empirical studies, using objective measures of both selectivity and contests. Our meta–meta-analysis shows that publication selection is widespread, but not universal. It distorts scientific inference with potentially adverse effects on policy making, but competition and debate between rival theories reduces this selectivity and thereby improves economic inference.

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