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John Cochrane has an interesting take on this issue:

"For the moment, the Federal Government does have a unique role in creating and supplying economic data. We can't study what we can't measure. This really is a public good, reasonably well created managed, and starved for resources. But most of our data sources are decades old, and have not been adequately re-thought or expanded in that time. Especially with the internet, there is more and more private collection and supply of data, but for the moment it cannot supplant the Federal government...Economics is not, yet, "big science" requiring massive infrastructure to produce research. Economic data collection is "big," and best directed by researchers not government officials. Data can be sold, so it's not a pure public good. But I'm willing to go with the idea that not enough good data is produced."

He goes on to point out that a lot of economic research is just bad and that subsidies should go to data collection and not analysis. More than enough research is being done. Is it true that not enough important research in economics would get done without direct government subsidies? I doubt it. But we all suffer without data. Cochrane continues,

"But much of the federal research subsidy to economists does not go to creating new, publicly useful data sets. So, I think we can agree on research support for researchers to produce new data, but we don't need support to analyze that data."

The full post is at, http://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/subsidies-for-economists.html

Wondering whether the Canadian Government will make the results of the long form data (including PUMS) freely available. If not, screw em -- Canadians should demand to be paid to answer those questions if the government is going to charge them to view the results.

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