Notes on innovation economics

This post is just to link together a few resources I want to keep track of, occasioned by the publication of a concise review of innovation economics by NBER this week. “Innovation: Market Failures and Public Policies”, by Kevin A. Bryan and Heidi L. Williams, 2021. A 60-page summary of innovation economics, both theory and …

Bias in the market for change

Earlier this year I wrote about loss aversion and politics. Here’s a quick snippet on this from Felix Oberholzer-Gee’s excellent new book Better, Simpler Strategy. He’s covering three cases of technological change (radio, PCs, and ATMs) and notes that while they were expected to be pure substitutes for records, paper, and bank tellers, respectively, they …

Theory and replication

Economics studies tend to replicate at a higher rate than psychology studies. Why? One possibility is that economics has a more unified theoretical framework to help guide researchers toward hypotheses that are more likely true, whereas theories in psychology are numerous and not well integrated. Joseph Henrich has made this argument, and wants psychology to …

The politics of diffusion

Last post I pointed to a study noting the huge costs of delaying the spread of beneficial technologies. But I ended by adding a caveat: When the rapid spread of a technology makes it harder to regulate (broadly construed) that potentially strengthens the case for moving slower. So what does that look like? And how …

The benefits of tech adoption

Dylan Matthews has a good column in Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter (can’t find a link) that gets at something I’ve been thinking about a lot: the potentially large, but unseen costs of slowing the spread of useful technologies. He’s writing about a new paper estimating the benefits of the Green Revolution: The [Green Revolution] was …

Evidence in public policy

What counts as good evidence in policymaking? Here’s one rubric, from Nature’s journal of Behavioural and Social Sciences in summer 2020: The problem with a rubric like this is it seems it would score only one star on its own measure; we need better evidence about evidence. But still useful in my opinion. Update: More …