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Better to be rough and relevant than to be precise and irrelevant. Reddaway's Legacy to Economics


  • Ajit Singh


W.B. Reddaway has been a highly influential figure in Cambridge economics during the second half of the 20th Century. His method and style of doing economics - called the Reddaway-type economics - were quite distinct. The present paper explains Reddaway's methodology by examining his most important research contributions. The title of this essay conveys his distance from mainstream economists. His essential substantive difference with the latter concerned inferential econometrics. He subscribed to Keynes' critique of Timburgen's methodology. In summary, Reddaway regarded economics as an empirical, evidence-based subject which, through economic policy, should help improve the world. In his view mathematics could sometimes help, but, more often than not, it obfuscated economic reality. Currently the academic economics profession is dominated by a priori theorising and deductive modelling. Greater attention to Reddaway's legacy to economics, to its research methods and to teaching, would very much help to rebalance the subject.

Suggested Citation

  • Ajit Singh, 2008. "Better to be rough and relevant than to be precise and irrelevant. Reddaway's Legacy to Economics," Working Papers wp379, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp379
    Note: PRO-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deirdre N. McCloskey & Stephen T. Ziliak, 1996. "The Standard Error of Regressions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 97-114, March.
    2. W.B. Reddaway, 1937. "The General Theory Of Employment, Interest And Money," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 12(1-2), pages 28-36, June.
    3. Padma Desai, 1963. "The Development Of The Indian Economy: An Exercise In Economic Planning," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 308-317.
    4. B. Reddaway, 1995. "Recollections of a lucky economist," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 48(192), pages 3-16.
    5. B. Reddaway, 1995. "Recollections of a lucky economist," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 48(192), pages 3-16.
    6. Ajit Singh, 2005. "Globalisation And The Regulation Of Fdi: New Proposals From The European Community And Japan," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 99-121, August.
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    1. repec:bla:devchg:v:49:y:2018:i:2:p:561-628 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Chiodi, Guglielmo, 2012. "Keynes across the Atlantic and the Refined Pedagogy of Vittorio Sirotti - Keynes tra le due sponde dell’Atlantico e la raffinata pedagogia di Vittorio Sirotti," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 65(1), pages 39-53.

    More about this item


    Method and style of doing economics; Reddaway-type economics; inferential econometrics;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics
    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics
    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • B5 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches

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