Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The History of Econometrics - An Alternative View

There are different ways of looking at history.Professor Annie Cot reminds of this, in the context of econometrics, in one of her dissertations that has been made available here.
"Econometrics has become such an obvious, objective - almost natural - tool that economists often forget that it has a history of its own, a complex and sometimes problematic history. Two works - Morgan (1990) and Qin (1993) - constitute the Received View of the history of econometrics. Basing our analysis on Leo Corry's methodological (and historiographical) framework of image and body of knowledge, the main purpose of this dissertation is to provide a critical account of the Received View.
Our main criticism is that historians of econometrics have a particular image of knowledge that stems from within econometrics itself, generating a problem of reflexivity. This means that historians of econometrics would evaluate econometrics and its history from an econometrician point of view, determining very specific criteria of what should be considered as "true", what should be studied or what should be the questions that the scientific community should ask.
This reflexive vision has conducted the Received View to write an internalist and funnel-shaped version of the History of Econometrics, presenting it as a lineal process progressing towards the best possible solution: Structural Econometrics and Haavelmo's Probability Approach in Econometrics (1944). 
The present work suggests that a new history of econometrics is needed. A new history that would overcome the reflexivity problem yielding a certainly messier and convoluted but also richer vision of econometrics' evolution, rather than the lineal path towards progress presented by the Received View".
If you have a serious interest in the history of our discipline, this is for you.

© 2013, David E. Giles