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A Plea for Errors

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  • Charles Feinstein

    (All Souls College, Oxford)

  • Mark Thomas

    (Nuffield College, Oxford)

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    Abstract

    This paper argues that all historical data series should be accompanied by formal estimates of their margins of error. We discuss the nature of errors in data series and review earlier attempts to assess their reliability. We show how overall margins of error may be calculated for historical series from judgments on the reliability of their components, and how these allow readers both to appraise the estimate and to test the implications of applying different standards. An illustration is provided for Hoffmann’s index of British industrial output, 1770–1831. The calculations emphasize the value of this approach to the recent debate on growth rates during the industrial revolution and suggest its merits more generally.

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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2277/feinstein2.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _041.

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    Length: 50 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Jul 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_041

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    Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Thomas J. Weiss, 1992. "U. S. Labor Force Estimates and Economic Growth, 1800-1860," NBER Chapters, in: American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War, pages 19-78 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. C. K. Harley & N. F. R. Crafts, 1995. "Cotton textiles and industrial output growth during the industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(1), pages 134-144, 02.
    3. Greasley David & Oxley Les, 1995. "Balanced versus Compromise Estimates of UK GDP 1870-1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 262-272, April.
    4. Federico, Giovanni & Tena, Antonio, 1991. "On the accuracy of foreign trade statistics (1909-1935): Morgenstern revisited," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 259-273, July.
    5. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
    6. Javier Cuenca Esteban, 1994. "British textile prices, 1770-1831: are British growth rates worth revising once again?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 47(1), pages 66-105, 02.
    7. Simon Kuznets & Lillian Epstein & Elizabeth Jenks, 1946. "National Income and Its Composition, 1919-1938, Volume II," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn41-3.
    8. Temin, Peter, 1997. "Two Views of the British Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(01), pages 63-82, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Camilla Brautaset & Regina Grafe, 2006. "The Quiet Transport Revolution: Returns to scale, scope and network density in Norway's nineteenth-century sailing fleet," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _062, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    2. J.Humphries & T. Leunig, 2007. "Cities, Market Integration and Going to Sea: Stunting and the standard of living in early nineteenth-century England and Wales," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _066, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    3. S. Solomou & C. A. Ristuccia, 2002. "British Episodic Economic Growth 1850-1938," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0208, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. van Zanden, Jan Luiten & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2012. "Persistent but not consistent: The growth of national income in Holland 1347–1807," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 119-130.
    5. Oliver Wavell Grant, 2002. "Productivity in German Agriculture: Estimates of Agricultural Productivity from Regional Accounts for 21 German Regions: 1880/4, 1893/7 and 1905/9," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _047, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    6. Guillaume Daudin, 2008. "Domestic Trade and Market Size in Late Eighteenth-Century France," Economics Series Working Papers 69, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Mohammad Niaz Asadullah, 2006. "Educational Disparity in East and West Pakistan, 1947-71: Was East Pakistan Discriminated Against?," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W63, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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