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Better LATE Than Nothing: Some Comments on Deaton (2009) and Heckman and Urzua (2009)

Guido W. Imbens

NBER Working Paper No. 14896
Issued in April 2009
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

Two recent papers, Deaton (2009), and Heckman and Urzua (2009), argue against what they see as an excessive and inappropriate use of experimental and quasi-experimental methods in empirical work in economics in the last decade. They specifically question the increased use of instrumental variables and natural experiments in labor economics, and of randomized experiments in development economics. In these comments I will make the case that this move towards shoring up the internal validity of estimates, and towards clarifying the description of the population these estimates are relevant for, has been important and beneficial in increasing the credibility of empirical work in economics. I also address some other concerns raised by the Deaton and Heckman-Urzua papers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14896

Published: Guido W. Imbens, 2010. "Better LATE Than Nothing: Some Comments on Deaton (2009) and Heckman and Urzua (2009)," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 399-423, June. citation courtesy of

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