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Presidential Address: Mathematics in economics and econometrics

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  • Victoria Zinde-Walsh

Abstract

The paper discusses the choices of mathematical approaches in economics and econometrics, in particular, approaches that either (a) aim for a sharp result or (b) use the least restrictive assumptions. It is argued that, while the choice (a) often necessitates strong mathematical assumptions, choice (b) may lead to only partial identification and may require using less familiar mathematical techniques. This is discussed in the context of the problem of defining a probability density: existence may fail in function spaces; even after imposing assumptions that ensure existence, the problem is not well posed. A density function may not exist for economic variables as a consequence of institutional rigidity such as an income supplement. The apparatus of generalized functions provides the general solution to identification and well-posedness of density, but at the cost of less sharp results and greater mathematical complexity.

Suggested Citation

  • Victoria Zinde-Walsh, 2011. "Presidential Address: Mathematics in economics and econometrics," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1052-1068, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:44:y:2011:i:4:p:1052-1068
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James Markusen, 2005. "Modeling the Offshoring of White-Collar Services: From Comparative Advantage to the New Theories of Trade and FDI," NBER Working Papers 11827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Biscourp, Pierre & Kramarz, Francis, 2007. "Employment, skill structure and international trade: Firm-level evidence for France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 22-51, May.
    3. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 819-863.
    4. Megan MacGarvie, 2006. "Do Firms Learn from International Trade?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 46-60, February.
    5. Ronald W. Jones, 2000. "A Framework for Fragmentation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-056/2, Tinbergen Institute.
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