My takeaways from this post:
- Descriptive studies were never easy to publish outside of review papers and books
- Descriptive studies remain very difficult to publish
- The treatment effect of randomized trials is not evident, and is probably minor
- You could argue that descriptive studies are complementary to randomized trials. Many trials have resulted in new data on levels and trends of phenomena. Arguably Poor Economics by Banerjee and Duflo is a big descriptive analysis based in Ory on trials. I unexpectedly found that a lot of my own studies (dispute resolution in Liberia, sweatshops in Ethiopia) the randomized trial results were less important than the descriptive analysis.