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Mainstream economics has a tendency to decide on some "established" conclusions, and then hold on to them, notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary. This is bad enough, but what may be worse for a discipline that lays claim to being a science is the lack of insistence on the replicability of empirical results. For example, empirical work that supports fiscal austerity or market deregulation is cited extensively and becomes the basis for advancing those particular policy outcomes.Besley and Burgess claimed to show that pro-worker regulations in some states resulted in lower output, employment, investment and productivity, and even increased urban poverty, relative to states that did not adopt such regulations.Although various economists raised serious concerns about the methodology Besley and Burgess adopted, their criticisms never gained much traction among policymakers.So how did Besley and Burgess get away with it, and why have such results not been more comprehensively trashed in the literature and in policy circles?To recover credibility, economics needs to become more open to criticism of assumptions, methods and results.
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