IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Presidential Address: Mathematics in economics and econometrics


  • Victoria Zinde-Walsh


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: Available to subscribers only. Alternative access through JSTOR and Ingenta.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:44:y:2011:i:4:p:1052-1068. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Prof. Werner Antweiler). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.