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"The food chains of the 3 countries are very integrated, so without NAFTA it would have a massive displacement. Walmart or the other big retailers or food processors have spent time integrating across borders, so any change in trade policy will create headaches."

John Beghin
North Carolina State University

President's Message

Scott Swinton
AAEA President

Relevance, Validity, and Analytical Fiddling
January 2018

In my AAEA presidential address, “Why Should I Believe Your Applied Economics?” (in press, AJAE Feb 2018), I called for research that is both relevant and valid. The toughest question from the audience asked how to handle cases where the researcher distorts results to boost their importance. In short, does analytical fiddling mean that the goals of relevance and validity are at loggerheads?

In a world where citations drive impact and novelty drives citations, the temptation is great for a researcher to fiddle analytically until hitting upon some result that is both novel and statistically significant. Analytical fiddling may take the form of p-hacking in statistical models or of choosing biased parameters in simulation or optimization models. But analytical fiddling also serves essential, benevolent purposes. Here are four follow-up thoughts to that very important question.

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