The rise of empirical econ, in one chart

pi

Goddammit I need more memory

I apologize for the click-baiting title, but this is pretty cool. John C. McCallum has assembled a (rough) estimate of the price of computer memory (mainly RAM) over time. I’ve adjusted the prices for inflation and graphed it over time. The results are pretty amazing (keep in mind the y-axis is log-scale).

memprice

Without cheap memory, you can say goodbye to big data sets and complex calculations which really enabled empirical econ to take off. Sure, CPU speeds matters as well and the RCT folks were always a little less reliant on large data sets, but can you imagine having to bootstrap those standard errors with 2mb of RAM? File this under “things are getting better.” Hat tip to Data is Plural, a newsletter you really should subscribe to if you like random data sets.

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