Conducting hypothesis tests with a Turnbull estimator with pooled data drives me crazy

  • October 30, 2023
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I wrote a referee comment to the effect of:

Many contingent valuation method researchers use the nonparametrice Turnbull WTP estimates for hypothesis testing. This is inappropriate when the data must be “pooled” to get the willingness to pay (e.g., the “vote in favor” variable) to decrease with the cost amount. Sometimes, due to small samples, poorly chosen cost amounts or respondent inattentiveness, the percentage of “vote in favor” responses is not monotonically decreasing with the cost amount. The Turnbull estimator requires that the “vote in favor” responses are pooled over prices until the pooled responses are monotonically decreasing. This is, in effect, a recoding of the dependent variable. This makes the WTP estimates inappropriate for hypothesis testing. 

The authors halfway defended their practice because everyone does it. Do I have to be your parent? If everyone does it, does that make it right?

Are there any other examples in the literature where we allow researchers to recode their dependent variable so that it conforms to theory and then use the recoded data for hypothesis testing?