Dr. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge
Students often learn about important figures in economics only briefly and in passing, yet the content taught in economics courses often comes from brilliant economists such as these.
Econometrics is the application of statistical rigor to economics that allows economists to test economic theory. It is the backbone of modern economic research; any empirical paper that lacked solid econometric reasoning (and preferably repeatable, data-based analysis) would probably not be taken seriously. While it’s possible to theorize and contribute to economics through the development of new theoretical models (especially by introducing science from related fields, like psychology), most serious economists must be comfortable with basic econometrics.
Enter Dr. Wooldridge’s research and his seminal text, Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach, first published in 1999 and now with over 6 editions, still widely used around the world. Dr. Wooldridge is a prolific researcher who has published more than forty articles in top economics journals and has helped advance econometric theory significantly. Chances are, if you’re a serious student of economics, you’ll end up using his material in some of your courses.
Dr. Wooldridge’s contributions to advancing econometric rigor
Dr. Wooldridge’s main research focus is in microeconometrics, a sub-field of econometrics that works with individual-level data. He specializes in the study of panel and cross-sectional data, researching and promoting the best econometric methods for researchers to use with these types of datasets.
This work is important. One of the cornerstones of the scientific method is the use of repeatable experiments that can be measured. Unfortunately, in economics, it’s very difficult to conduct a repeatable experiment. After all, we study the decisions that people make with limited resources, and it would be impossible to dictate people’s lives just to study their outcomes.
Therefore, in economics, historical data is used quite often (though randomized controlled trials have become increasingly common, thanks to the work of certain economists). Because of this, economists often do not have control over how the data was collected, or what specific measurements were used to record it.
This makes measurement, and statistical testing, a complicated and precarious process for many researchers. For these reasons, it is often misleading or impossible to use the most straightforward methods of statistical analysis when studying economic data. Further, due to the types of analyses economists like to conduct, there are frequently situations where economists must employ models that violate some of the classic linear regression model assumptions.
Therefore, it’s important to have pioneers in the econometric space who can devise methods for properly studying atypical datasets, and techniques for accurately conducting statistical tests in these atypical settings. Further, these pioneers must be adept at teaching others to do the same. This empowers other economics researchers to focus on their actual specialties and research questions, while enabling them to produce the most accurate results possible from their work.
This is exactly what Dr. Wooldridge has been able to do over the course of his career. His work has been cited over 130,000 times1 because it has helped form the empirical backbone for many other studies. Without someone to break new ground and pioneer a new, useful econometric approach, some types of analyses are just not possible.
Dr. Wooldridge’s research has been distilled into actionable findings that other economists can make use of in their research. Its importance cannot be overstated.
Dr. Wooldridge’s professional achievements
Jeffrey M. Wooldridge is University Distinguished Professor of Economics at Michigan State University, where he has been teaching since 1991. He is a fellow of multiple prestigious societies, including the Econometric Society and the Journal of Econometrics. He is additionally a research fellow at IZA. Besides his most famous work, (Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach), he has also authored another important text for economists, titled Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data.
Dr. Wooldridge has served on the editorial boards of several journals, including the Journal of Economic Literature, the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Journal of Econometrics. He is currently an editor for the Stata Journal. He has also been co-editor of Econometric Theory, an econometrics co-editor of Economics Letters. He previously served as an editor for the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics.
In addition to more than forty articles published in internationally recognized journals, he has written several book chapters. These include articles in the Handbook of Econometrics and the Handbook of Applied Econometrics.
Dr. Wooldridge received his Ph.D. in economics in 1986 from the University of California, San Diego.
1: Dr. Wooldridge’s work has been cited 138,755 times according to Google Scholar as of May 10, 2023.
Header image credit: Global Labor Organization https://glabor.org/glo-recommends-take-a-microeconometrics-class-with-professor-jeffrey-m-wooldridge-at-kent-university-deadline-is-end-of-april/.
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