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Despite intense concern that many instrumental variables used in growth regressions may be weak, invalid, or both, top journals continue to publish studies of economic growth based on problematic instruments. Doing so risks pushing the entire literature closer to irrelevance. The authors illustrate hidden problems with identification in recent prominently published and widely cited growth studies using their original data. They urge researchers to take three steps to overcome the shortcomings: grounding research in somewhat more generalized theoretical models, deploying the latest methods to test sensitivity to violations of the exclusion restriction, and opening the "Black box" of the Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) with supportive evidence of instrument strength.
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