Don’t Put the Cart before the Horse: Teaching the Economic Approach to Empirical Research
Working Paper No. 2005-12. 22 pages.
When students are taught how to do original research in courses outside economics, they are taught to begin with the collection of data. This is not the approach followed by economists, who typically begin an answer to a research question by developing a model. The model then guides the search for evidence. We argue that the economic approach is more likely to lead to the development of a persuasive argument, and that greater awareness of the contrast between the economic approach and its alternatives can enable economists to improve the teaching of the research process.