> In an earlier message, William Sjostrom suggested that Levitt's research
> is typical of the economics field. I am very curious about this statement,
> because it is at odds with my casual empiricism, and I would like to see
> it backed by some concrete evidence. Perhaps this reflects my own
> ignorance of the literature, but I would like to know who
> does such clever, but careful empirical work. If this is true, I'd like
> to read it. Are there people out there that collect interesting data to
> approach previously intractable questions from a new direction?

I did not quite mean that most economists were as clever as Levitt.  I meant
only that the kinds of problems Levitt works on are now pretty standard.
Crime has been a common topic among economists for decades.  The reference
to Levitt's work on real estate agents is basically just agency theory,
again a topic for empirical work for some years.  I do not mean to denigrate
Levitt's creativity, which is simply huge.  My complaint was about the way
the Times told the story.  They made it sound as if economists sit around
all day making vague philosophical observations about capitalism and
socialism, or something like that, rather than working on the small problems
that most of us spend most of our time working on.
Bill Sjostrom

William Sjostrom
Senior Lecturer
Centre for Policy Studies
National University of Ireland, Cork
5 Bloomfield Terrace, Western Road
Cork, Ireland

+353-21-490-2091 (work)
+353-21-490-3658 (fax)
+353-21-463-4056 (home)

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