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Robbins on Economic Generalizations and Reality in the Light of Modern Econometrics


This paper examines Lionel Robbins' critical attitude towards formal empirical work from the standpoint of modern econometrics. It argues that his attitude towards empirical work rested on indefensible assumptions and that he failed to realise that the role he saw for empirical work undermined his belief in the primacy of economic theory. This matters because Robbins' attitudes are echoed in modern economics, best exemplified by the calibration methodology of Kydland and Prescott, which is vulnerable to similar criticisms. Copyright (c) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2009.

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Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 76 (2009)
Issue (Month): s1 (October)
Pages: 873-890

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:76:y:2009:i:s1:p:873-890
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  1. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  2. Oded Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," GE, Growth, Math methods 0409003, EconWPA.
  3. Kevin D. Hoover & Soren Johansen & Katarina Juselius, 2008. "Allowing the Data to Speak Freely: The Macroeconometrics of the Cointegrated Vector Autoregression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 251-55, May.
  4. John Kennan, 1995. "The Elusive Effects of Minimum Wages," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1950-1965, December.
  5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1991. " The Econometrics of the General Equilibrium Approach to Business Cycles," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(2), pages 161-78.
  6. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  7. James L. Heckman, 1999. "Causal Parameters and Policy Analysis in Economcs: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," NBER Working Papers 7333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," NBER Working Papers 4509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1990. "The Fable of the Keys," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-25, April.
  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521415019 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. J. Tinbergen., 2007. "On a Method of Statistical Business-Cycle Research. A Reply," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
  12. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1992. "Employment Effects of Minimum and Subminimum Wages: Panel Data on State Minimum Wage Laws," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 55-81, October.
  13. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521425230 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Hoover, Kevin D, 1995. "Facts and Artifacts: Calibration and the Empirical Assessment of Real-Business-Cycle Models," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 24-44, January.
  15. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  16. Engle, Robert F & Granger, Clive W J, 1987. "Co-integration and Error Correction: Representation, Estimation, and Testing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 251-76, March.
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