Thursday, August 26, 2010

Case studies

Case studies play no role in economics although there is some similarity with the "natural experiments" that are popular with some econometricians. In psychology, however, case studies have been very influential for example lesion studies where an individual's capacities have been compromised by some insult. Phineas Gage is the most famous perhaps. BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting a series on classic case studies that are well known in psychology. They include the case of a man who's vision was restored after 50 years, leading to an unhappy outcome, and Dora the famous patient of Freud, an association that also did not work out particularly well.


Liam Delaney said...

Good point. One relevant stream of literature in economics is work on specific countries that have become basket cases. Will dig out references when time is better but there are a lot of papers along the lines of "economist as therapist" that look at specific financial crises and attempt to diagnose causes and draw broader implications.

Kevin Denny said...

Economies as basket cases... umm..let me guess..
Seriously, while we probably can infer something general from Phineas Gage - I guess that has been shown by now - I wonder can we do the same in economics? The problem is history. Not that its not worth trying. Given that all other property bubbles ended in tears, it shouldn't be hard to guess what would happen in the Irish case. Still, a lot of people including economists didn't.