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Economic History: What Are the Contributions of Historical Example to Understanding of Economic Phenomena?

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  • Tomáš Otáhal

Abstract

What are the contributions of historical example to understanding of economic phenomena? Economists widely adopt methods of natural sciences. But economics is a social science and the observed economic phenomena are qualitatively different from phenomena observed by natural sciences. Thus the use of natural sciences methods makes implications of economic theoretical models unrealistic. In this paper, I argue that the evidence of historical example is a good method to illuminate the implications of economic theoretical models, because if implications of economic theoretical models are illustrated in historical perspective, they can be more easily verified by common sense thus particular historical circumstances may be partly revealed. Moreover, historical examples also serve to demonstrate the qualitative content of casual economic relations based on human historical experience, which is ignored by natural science methods. The historical example is thus not only more realistic but it better corresponds with the social nature of economic science.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Economics, Prague in its journal Politická ekonomie.

Volume (Year): 2012 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 679-693

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Handle: RePEc:prg:jnlpol:v:2012:y:2012:i:5:id:870:p:679-693

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Related research

Keywords: methodology; historical example; economics; economic history;

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References

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  1. Robert Lucas & Mike Golosov, 2004. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," 2004 Meeting Papers 144, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Christopher A. Sims, 2010. "But Economics Is Not an Experimental Science," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 59-68, Spring.
  3. Sheila C. Dow, 2007. "Variety Of Methodological Approach In Economics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(3), pages 447-465, 07.
  4. Joshua Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 8456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sheila C. Dow, 2004. "Uncertainty and monetary policy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 539-561, July.
  6. Jerry Hausman, 2001. "Mismeasured Variables in Econometric Analysis: Problems from the Right and Problems from the Left," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 57-67, Fall.
  7. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  8. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-29, October.
  9. Thomas J. Sargent & Paolo Surico, 2011. "Two Illustrations of the Quantity Theory of Money: Breakdowns and Revivals," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 109-28, February.
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