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On the Reception of Haavelmo’s Econometric Thought

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  • Kevin D. Hoover

Abstract

Trygve Haavelmo’s The Probability Approach in Econometrics (1944) has been widely regarded as the foundation document of modern econometrics. Nevertheless, its significance has been interpreted in widely different ways. Some modern economists regard it as a blueprint for a provocative, but ultimately unsuccessful, program dominated by the need for a priori theoretical identification of econometric models. They call for new techniques that better acknowledge the interrelationship of theory and data. Others credit Haavelmo with an approach that focuses on statistical adequacy rather than theoretical identification. They see many of Haavelmo’s deepest insights as having been unduly neglected. The current paper uses bibliometric techniques and a close reading of econometrics articles and textbooks to trace the way in which the economics profession received, interpreted, and transmitted Haavelmo’s ideas. A key irony is that the first group calls for a reform of econometric thinking that goes several steps beyond Haavelmo’s initial vision; while the second group argues that essentially what the first group advocates was already in Haavelmo’s Probability Approach from the beginning.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin D. Hoover, 2012. "On the Reception of Haavelmo’s Econometric Thought," Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series 2012-04, Center for the History of Political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2012-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1980. "Methods and Problems in Business Cycle Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(4), pages 696-715, November.
    2. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
    3. Ronald G. Bodkin & Lawrence R. Klein & Kanta Marwah, 1991. "A History of Macroeconometric Model-Building," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 51, April.
    4. George A. Akerlof & Robert J. Shiller, 2010. "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9163, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trygve Haavelmo; econometrics; history of econometrics; the probability approach; econometric methodology; Cowles Commission;

    JEL classification:

    • B23 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Econometrics; Quantitative and Mathematical Studies
    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General

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