Justin Wolfer’s work on prediction markets, racial bias in the NBA, happiness, and divorce has been mentioned on this blog many times so we decided to cut out the middlemen, i.e. us, and let Justin do all the work. The amazing thing is he said yes. Tyler and I are delighted to have Justin guest blogging with us this week.
The aforementioned works are just a portion of Justin’s output. The media love his work on sports and betting but Justin’s work with Oliver Blanchard on European unemployment, for example, has been influential in the profession (and come to think of it also made the papers). Justin has also worked on business cycle theory and with Greg Mankiw on inflation expectations.
Justin is known for careful, thorough and compelling empirical work. He often has what I think of as the last word on a subject as with his paper on the Coase theorem and divorce or his work with John Donohue on the death penalty.
An open secret and an open sin in economics is that many empirical studies are difficult to replicate, even when journals supposedly require authors to make their data publicly available. Here is how you replicate a Wolfers paper: You go to his web page you download the data and often the code, you run it – and damn it you get exactly what is in the journal. I have done this several times and every time I am shocked that this actually works. (And before being accused of being a hypocrite let me acknowledge that I too have sinned but under Justin’s example I am resolved to do better in the future.)
With all this in his favor I almost want to report to you that this guy may be a excellent economist but oh what a jerk. Alas, Justin is modest to a fault, highly supportive of the work of others and great fun to talk with over a beer. The worst thing I can say about him – and I feel I must say something bad if only to be credible – is that he really needs a haircut. Welcome to MR, Justin!