The Age of Economic Measurement

The Age of Economic Measurement. 2001. Edited by Judy L. Klein and Mary S. Morgan. Supplement to volume 33 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Preface (pp. 1–2)

"The Reader's Essential Non-Guide to The Age of Economic Measurement," by Judy L. Klein and Mary S. Morgan (p. 3).

Perspective: "Economics and the History of Measurement," by Theodore M. Porter (pp. 4–22). The practical purposes of measurment have been central to its history.

"A. F. W. Crome's Measurement of the 'Strength of State': Statistical Representations in Central Europe around 1800," by Sybilla Nikolow (pp. 23–56). Crome's contribution to state-crafting measurement highlights the nature of social science taught at German-speaking universities and the controversy over the role of measurement and table making in the study of the state.

"Make a Righteous Number: Social Surveys, the Men and Religion Forward Movement, and Quantification in American Economics," by Bradley W. Bateman (pp. 57–85). American economists were led by a moral curiosity in attempting to measure social phenomena.

"March to Numbers: The Statistical Style of Lucien March," by Franck Jovanovic and Philippe Le Gall (pp. 86–110). Lucien March's statistical style can be understood as a search for tools and indicators that make possible an approximate measurement of the social world.

Perspective: "Reflections from the Age of Economic Measurement," by Judy L. Klein (pp. 111–36). Many key developments in economic measurement have occurred at the edges where the habitat of the economics discipline gives way to other biomes.

"Measuring Causes: Episodes in the Quantitative Assessment of the Value of Money," by Kevin D. Hoover and Michael E. Dowell (pp. 137–61). The measurement strategies of important eighteenth- and nineteenth-century economists are imbued with theoretical presuppositions and are shaped by particular conceptions of the value of money.

"Quantity Theory and Needs-of-Trade Measurements and Indicators for Monetary Policymakers in the 1920s," by Thomas M. Humphrey (pp. 162–89). The age of measurement in economics coincides with the rise of central banking.

"Leontief and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1941–54: Developing a Framework for Measurement," by Martin C. Kohli (pp. 190–212). Conceptual changes made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics made possible several important measurements.

"Richard Stone and Measurement Criteria for National Accounts," by Flavio Comim (pp. 213–34). Stone's criteria to assess the measurement of national accounts were influenced by practical considerations.

Perspective: "Making Measuring Instruments," by Mary S. Morgan (pp. 235–51). The change wrought by the age of measurement is evident in the way we now habitually accept that measurements give us a reliable representation of what is happening in the economy.

"'Facts Carefully Marshalled' in the Empirical Studies of William Stanley Jevons," by Sandra J. Peart (pp. 252–76). Jevons attempted in myriad economic settings to put into practice his recommendations for measurement outlined in the "Principles of Science."

"An Instrument Can Make a Science: Jevons's Balancing Acts in Economics," by Harro Maas (pp. 277–302). Measurement instruments such as the balance helped transform political economy from an inexact science to one, Jevons hoped, of accuracy and precision.

Perspective: "Measurement, and Changing Images of Mathematical Knowledge," by E. Roy Weintraub (pp. 303–12). The changing "image of mathematics" provides a context for understanding the changing nature of measurement in economics.

"Fisher's Instrumental Approach to Index Numbers," by Marcel Boumans (pp. 313–44). Fisher's background in mathematics, his philosophical thinking, and his inventions of measuring instruments are key to understanding his empirically inclined approach to the assessment of index numbers.

"Quantifying the Qualitative: Quality-Adjusted Price Indexes in the United States, 1915–61," by H. Spencer Banzhaf (pp. 345–70). The ways in which economists characterized the problem of quality change have paralleled the ways in which they have conceptualized the price index itself.