Pablo Selaya: “Quantophrenia and anecdotal evidence: A discussion on the mix of methods in applied economics research”

I discuss the problem of defining intuitive concepts such as wealth, happiness and inequality, and outline the approach of researchers in economics to measuring them. I argue that the increasing complexity of the phenomena that applied economists want to understand, and the interest in drawing policy implications from the analysis, require quantitative researchers taking a confident bite of qualitative research methods. I illustrate the reasons with recent examples from research in behavioral economics, political science, and comparative economic and political development, where the incorporation of ethnography, open-ended interviews, and observational-participation increases the informational content of the gathered data, reduces the margins of error in the quantitative analysis part, and facilitates the emergence of new relevant questions.

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