Economics has a replication problem

Analyzing research from thirteen top economics journals, Chang and Li were able to replicate the findings of just 29 of the 59 papers they scrutinized, and that was with the assistance of the original authors. The duo was also very generous with their definition of “successful replication.” As long as they received a result that pointed in the same direction as the original, the original was considered replicated.

“For example, if the paper estimates a fiscal multiplier for GDP of 2.0, then any multiplier greater than 1.0 would produce the same qualitative result,” they explained. “We define success using this extremely loose definition to get an upper bound on what the replication success rate could potentially be.”

Believe it or not, a near 50% replication rate is actually an improvement for economics. Back in 2006, researchers examined more than 150 economics articles and found that only fifteen of those could be replicated.