Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Did John Lott Provide Bad Data to the NRC? A Note on Aneja, Donohue, and Zhang

by

Abstract

In an article titled “The Impact of Right-to-Carry Laws and the NRC Report: Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy” published in the American Law and Economics Review in 2011, Abhay Aneja, John Donohue III, and Alexandria Zhang report on their inability to replicate regression estimates appearing in the 2005 National Research Council (NRC) report Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. They suggest that there are flaws in the data that John Lott had supplied to the NRC. This suggestion could sow seeds of doubt with respect to the many studies that have used that data. The source of the replication problem, however, was that Aneja, Donohue, and Zhang did not estimate the correct model specification—a problem that they have acknowledged in subsequent communications. However, in these later communications they do not make clear that the basis for their doubts about the Lott-originated data has disappeared.