Natural experiments in economics: a blog for the Lindau Nobel Foundation

Three professors who have spent their careers carrying out experiments in real life is the mark of the supremacy of the so-called “credibility revolution” in economics were awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in November 2021.

David Card, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, shared the prize with Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Joshua Angrist and Stanford University professor Guido Imbens. Half of the prize was awarded to Card and the other half jointly to Angrist and Imbens.

For three decades they led the charge away from a focus on economic theory towards showing what conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments — real-life situations where chance events or policy decisions create similar conditions to those of a clinical trial.

In a blog for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Foundation, which in normal years gathers together around 30-40 Nobel Laureates in Lindau to meet the next generation of leading scientists, I pulled together all the many tributes that poured in from fellow experts and collaborators in the field who believed that the joint award as highly deserved. The article is here.