Author's Statement

A creative work should speak for itself, without being usurped by extraneous ramblings from its author. Still, readers and prospective readers perhaps deserve to hear a little about the sequence of events that led me to write this book and stake out its unique methodological position.

My first decade of academic publishing was quite traditional. Between 1995, when I finished my Ph.D., and 2004, I published seven papers. Two of these, begun in graduate school, offered incremental methodological improvements on existing literatures—nothing to be ashamed of, but nothing controversial, either. The other five papers, like my dissertation, were built around the modern panel methods that were then gaining traction. These were the academic equivalent of chicken soup: they went down easy. I received a total of only two rejections across all five papers combined.

That changed quickly in my next decade of research, which became much more experimental. The range of topics I wanted to explore widened, along with the range of methods used to explore them. I wrote two empirical papers with no regressions at all, two that relied heavily on factor analytic methods, others that combined theory and empirics in unusual ways, still others that inverted the questions economists usually ask.

Writing those papers complemented other broadening experiences—in community involvement, in previous jobs, in my reading. Eventually, it got so that I had double vision: I could look out from the economics profession to the world, and I could look in to the profession from the outside, too. Oh, the questions that arose then!

I had always been concerned about microeconomics’ empirical methodology, but now I was equipped to work though these concerns. I ramped up my seminar attendance and turned it into a field of testing, posing questions that probed the thought process of the speaker: what they hadn’t thought of, what they had, and how. Eventually my thoughts collected sufficiently that it was time to act.

The first sketch of a draft of an outline of this book was put to paper in 2010, and occasionally embellished in succeeding years. By 2014 I had enough clarity to formulate a book proposal. Neither the large-scale nor the small-scale organization of the book was obvious. But writing is a tortuous thrill, and I was happy to stick with it. Five years later, here we are.

Learn more about me here.