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Can economic studies get outdated?

16kadams
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11/1/2012 5:06:07 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I'm just wondering if economic studies or theory can get outdated, because on some sources the age doesn't matter. Economics can be disproven, but can it get outdated?

Thanks.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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11/1/2012 5:21:06 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Depends. Consider a study concluding that the quota of shoes should be "X million worth for maximum efficiency (not going downstairs to find real examples, but I remember one in the '20s about funding for phoenix co-operatives). Does the study work dependent on legislation (e.g. a study might conclude this, but since then a mass of legislation may have made the shoe trade worse off), or a culture change (shoes aren't fashionable anymore: walking barefoot is where it is at, so there's no need for them anymore) or technological innovation (may invent a super-onesie that means we don't wear shoes anymore).

Does something like pareto efficiency, or mathematical equations get outdated? Again, depends. I'd say pareto efficiency cannot become outdated. The Scitovsky paradox won't either, I would posit. Things like the seven equation model probably will, though.
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16kadams
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11/1/2012 5:47:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/1/2012 5:21:06 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Depends. Consider a study concluding that the quota of shoes should be "X million worth for maximum efficiency (not going downstairs to find real examples, but I remember one in the '20s about funding for phoenix co-operatives). Does the study work dependent on legislation (e.g. a study might conclude this, but since then a mass of legislation may have made the shoe trade worse off), or a culture change (shoes aren't fashionable anymore: walking barefoot is where it is at, so there's no need for them anymore) or technological innovation (may invent a super-onesie that means we don't wear shoes anymore).

Does something like pareto efficiency, or mathematical equations get outdated? Again, depends. I'd say pareto efficiency cannot become outdated. The Scitovsky paradox won't either, I would posit. Things like the seven equation model probably will, though.

Lets narrow this down then.

A minimum wage study.
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"A trend is a trend, but the question is, will it bend? Will it alter its course through some unforeseen force and come to a premature end?" -- Alec Cairncross
ThomasJefferson
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11/1/2012 6:53:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
It depends on what you mean by outdated. Just because a study is older does not make it outdated if it still provides us with important and relevant information.

It's possible the cultural, legal, or administrative framework under which the study was performed may have changed. If so, you cannot necessarily draw the same conclusion from the study. It's also possible that some older studies may have used flawed experimental designs that would cause later researchers to disregard those studies. This happened with some of the mid-20th century IQ tests that didn't account for environmental influences on IQ. These studies aren't really "outdated" though. We just can draw much useful information from them because they failed to control important variables.

The age of the study, by itself, is not important. The issue is whether we still believe the study tells us relevant information. A number of factors can go into that question.