October 2015

Is Economics Research Replicable? Sixty Published Papers from Thirteen Journals Say "Usually Not"

Andrew C. Chang and Phillip Li


We attempt to replicate 67 papers published in 13 well-regarded economics journals using author-provided replication files that include both data and code. Some journals in our sample require data and code replication files, and other journals do not require such files. Aside from 6 papers that use confidential data, we obtain data and code replication files for 29 of 35 papers (83%) that are required to provide such files as a condition of publication, compared to 11 of 26 papers (42%) that are not required to provide data and code replication files. We successfully replicate the key qualitative result of 22 of 67 papers (33%) without contacting the authors. Excluding the 6 papers that use confidential data and the 2 papers that use software we do not possess, we replicate 29 of 59 papers (49%) with assistance from the authors. Because we are able to replicate less than half of the papers in our sample even with help from the authors, we assert that economics research is usually not replicable. We conclude with recommendations on improving replication of economics research.

Accessible materials (.zip)

Keywords: Data and Code Archives, Gross Domestic Product, GDP, Journals, Macroeconomics, National Income and Product Accounts, Publication, Research, Replication

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2015.083

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: June 19, 2020