Akerlof warns economics is biased against methods seen as ‘soft’

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Methods that eschew data analysis are being neglected, Akerlof says

Nobel prize-winning economist George Akerlof warns economists are committing “sins of omission” due to their bias against methods seen as “soft”.

In a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Economic Literature, Akerlof says it has been common to classify subjects on a scale from “hard” to “soft”, with physics at the hard end and history at the soft. Within economics, quantitative methods are seen as harder than qualitative, with causal identification viewed as particularly hard, says Akerlof.

He

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