Raj Chetty, a professor at Harvard University, argues that economics is very much a solid science. He argues that while economics has not been able to answer all big picture questions like – what causes recessions and the determinants of growth with perfect certainty. He writes in the NY Times:
Nonetheless, economists have recently begun to overcome these challenges by developing tools that approximate scientific experiments to obtain compelling answers to specific policy questions. …today, the most prominent economists are often empiricists … who focus on testing old theories and formulating new ones that fit the evidence.
This kind of empirical work in economics might be compared to the “micro” advances in medicine (like research on therapies for heart disease) that have contributed enormously to increasing longevity and quality of life, even as the “macro” questions of the determinants of health remain contested.