Being a theoretical type I am am always impressed by the wonder that is empirical economics. Now over at the NYU DRI blog Bill Easterly has come up with another example as to why we should hold empirical economics in such high esteem:
Using data conveniently available from the Peruvian, Ecuadorean, Bolivian, and Chilean Olympic trials, the study compared athletes who just made the Olympic team with those who just fell short. This rigorous regression discontinuity design allowed the study to identify the effect of Olympic participation on Olympic medals.
The study found on average zero effect of Olympic participation on Olympic medals. This study found no evidence that the Olympics produces Olympic medals.