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The Role of Data & Program Code Archives in the Future of Economic Research

This essay examines the role of data and program-code archives in making economic research "replicable." Replication of published results is recognized as an essential part of the scientific method. Yet, historically, both the "demand for" and "supply of" replicable results in economics has been minimal. "Respect for the scientific method" is not sufficient to motivate either economists or editors of professional journals to ensure the replicability of published results. We enumerate the costs and benefits of mandatory data and code archives, and argue that the benefits far exceed the costs. Progress has been made since the gloomy assessment of Dewald, Thursby and Anderson some twenty years ago in the American Economic Review, but much remains to be done before empirical economics ceases to be a "dismal science" when judged by the replicability of its published results.

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