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How Often Should We Believe Positive Results? Assessing the Credibility of Research Findings in Development Economics EconomicsSSMART

Eva Vivalt Aidan Coville

Under-powered studies combined with low prior beliefs about intervention effects increase the chances that a positive result is overstated. We collect prior beliefs about intervention impacts from 125 experts to estimate the false positive and false negative report probabilities (FPRP and FNRP) as well as Type S (sign) and Type M (magnitude) errors for studies in development economics. We find that the large majority of studies in our sample are generally credible. We discuss how more systematic collection and use of prior expectations could help improve the literature.

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