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How well can we predict life trajectories?

Published: 30th March 2020 Last updated: 31st March 2020

With enough data, computer power and skilled data scientists, one would think that predicting life trajectories in a well-defined context, for example predicting the GPA of children, should not be too difficult. A recent study, authored by a large, international team of researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes to a sobering conclusion.

Over a hundred teams of researchers, with backgrounds in various fields such as sociology, economics, engineering, computer science and physics, competed to make the best predictions of outcomes in a new wave of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. The best predictions turned out to be only slightly better – at best – than those from a simple benchmark model. Dr. Louis Raes, Assistent Professor Economics at Tilburg University, participated in this project.

Read the blog by dr. Louis Raes.

Read the article: Measuring the predictability of life outcomes with a scientific mass collaboration', in: PNAS, March 30, 2020

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