Last month I attended the interdisciplinary Seminar entitled “Trials and Tribulations of Economics: New Directions for Economic Policy Evidence” where I presented extracts from my PhD. The objective of the event was to make philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, and economists discuss the relationships between economics and its attuning to “real-world behaviour”, to quote Will Davies’ reflections about the seminar available here.
The presentations engaged more or less critically with new experimental methods in economics, such as big data analysis and Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs), in order to address the question of the interactions between economic expertise, understood in a very broad sense, and policy-making. The event gathered a rich set of empirical problems and issues. The participants’ work dealt with the enthusiasm for nudging in US politics, evidence-based interventions in UK health sector, ethical concerns with RCTs in development economics, or international result-based regulations targeting tropical deforestation. While the variety of cases clearly showed the preeminence of economic incentives and performance-based initiatives in contemporary (mostly Anglo-Saxon) policy-making, the challenge resided in the possibility of exchanging views, analysis and ideas across methodological and theoretical differences. With the "Trials and Tribulations of Economics" seminar, the Spaces of Evidence network provided a forum for such stimulating discussion and might do it again in future events, which can be followed here.