Histories on Econometrics

Histories on Econometrics. 2011. Edited by Marcel Boumans, Ariane Dupont-Kieffer, and Duo Qin. Supplement to volume 43 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"Foreword," by Mary S.Morgan (pp. 1–4). The new generation of studies in this volume revises older accounts and raises new questions, especially regarding the role of the Cowles Commission, once seen as the center of the subject.

"A History of the Histories of Econometrics," by Marcel Boumans and Ariane Dupont-Kieffer (pp. 5–31). Understanding the development of econometrics as a modern science requires understanding the development of the image of science, which includes the history of philosophy of science and the history of economic methodology.

Part 1. Disciplinary Boundaries

"Econometrics and Psychometrics: Rivers out of Biometry," by John Aldrich (pp. 35–56). Econometrics and psychometrics are indebted to biometry, which is the statistical approach to the biological problems of evolution as seen, for example, in Karl Pearson's 1896 paper on mathematics and evolution.

"The Fellowship of Econometrics: Selection and Diverging Views in the Province of Mathematical Economics, from the 1930s to the 1950s," by Fransicso Louçá and Sofia Terlica (pp. 57–85). The founders of the Econometric Society engaged in serious debate about the role of mathematics, resulting in two levels of affiliation: regular members and fellows.

"Econometrics and the Computer: Love or a Marriage of Convenience?," by Charles G. Renfro (pp. 86–105). The failure to unifiy the theoretical-quantitative and the empirical-quantitative approach is now most obviously revealed in the lack of attention given by econometric historians to the computational aspects of econometric practice.

Part 2. People and Areas

"Ragnar Frisch and the Probability Approach," by Olav Bjerkholt and Ariane Dupont-Kieffer (pp. 109–39). Frisch never accepted Haavelmo's 1950 statement about the relationship between observations and theory, although Haavelmo would have regarded Frisch's position as embedded in his own.

"Ta-Chung Liu's Exploratory Econometrics," by Hsiang-Ke Chao and Chao-Hsi Huang (pp. 140–65). "Exploratory" well describes the evolution of Liu's econometric methodology and practices concerning methods and models for quantitatively approaching macroeconomic reality, especially for the problem of identification.

"Tobin as an Econometrician," by Robert W. Dimand (pp. 166–87). Tobin's innovative combination of time-series data with household budget surveys was a contribution to econometrics and not just the use of existing techniques by an applied economist.

"A History of Japanese Developments in Econometrics," by Aiko Ikeo (pp. 188–210). Japan has a long history of collecting and processing statistical data, but direct communications with active statisticians and econometricians were important as well, leading to new collaborations between researchers and statistical experts.

"Corrado Gini (1884–1965): The Leading Figure of the Italian Group in the Econometric Society," by Daniela Parisi (pp. 211–32). Gini was able to give voice to the needs of change perceived by the statisticians involved in economic discourse, and the professional connections he established make the Italian history of econometrics a supranational history of the discipline.

Part 3. Data and Measurement

"The Introduction of the Cobb-Douglas Regression and Its Adoption by Agricultural Economists," by Jeff E. Biddle (pp. 235–57). Douglas's research program is described, along with the work of agricultural economists who established the Cobb-Douglas regression as a resarch tool in their field and embedded it in a comprehensive, probability-based statistical framework.

"The Early Years of Panel Data Econometrics," by Ariane Dupont-Kieffer and Alain Pirotte (pp. 258–82). The first panel data econometricians used already existing model principles to solve their specific problems and imported the principles into econometric analysis.

"The Phillips Curve from the Perspective of the History of Econometrics," by Duo Qin (pp. 283–308). Econometrics as practiced on the Phillips curve is explored, with attention paid to the Cowles paradigm that was consolidated and that initiated a number of reforms.

"Reconceiving Quality: Political Economy and the Rise of Hedonic Price Indexes," by Thomas A. Stapleford (pp. 309–28). The rise of hedonic price indexes involved a fundamental shift in intuitive assumptions about product quality among American economists and a related shift in their pragmatic concern from consumer protection to quantifying innovation.