A Plea for Errors
This paper argues that all historical data series should be accompanied by formal estimates of their margins of error. We discuss the nature of errors in data series and review earlier attempts to assess their reliability. We show how overall margins of error may be calculated for historical series from judgments on the reliability of their components, and how these allow readers both to appraise the estimate and to test the implications of applying different standards. An illustration is provided for Hoffmann’s index of British industrial output, 1770–1831. The calculations emphasize the value of this approach to the recent debate on growth rates during the industrial revolution and suggest its merits more generally.
|Date of creation:||01 Jul 2001|
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Economic History Review,
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- Temin, Peter, 1997. "Two Views of the British Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(01), pages 63-82, March.
- Federico, Giovanni & Tena, Antonio, 1991. "On the accuracy of foreign trade statistics (1909-1935): Morgenstern revisited," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 259-273, July.
- N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
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