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Improving the Accessibility of the NBER's Historical Data


  • Daniel Feenberg


  • Jeffrey A. Miron

    (Boston Univ.)


During the early years of its existence, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) assembled an extensive data set on all aspects of the pre-WWII macroeconomy. Until 1978, this data set existed only on the handwritten sheets to which the early NBER researchers copied the data from original sources. In 1978, the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) transferred the data to magnetic tape. A number of researchers have used the ICPSR tape, but two key problems discourage many from taking advantage of this unique data set. The first is that modern econometric software does not have the ability to read the obsolete ICPSR format. The second is that the process of transferring the data from the NBER's handwritten sheets to the ICPSR tape introduced a number of mistakes. We have eliminated these two impediments to use of the NBER data set by converting the ICPSR tape to a portable format and by verifying the accuracy of the data using the NBER's original handwritten sheets. The data set is now available on the Internet and can be accessed using standard gopher or web-browser software.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Feenberg & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1995. "Improving the Accessibility of the NBER's Historical Data," Macroeconomics 9507001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9507001 Note: Latex file

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mankiw, N Gregory & Miron, Jeffrey A & Weil, David N, 1987. "The Adjustment of Expectations to a Change in Regime: A Study of the Founding of the Federal Reserve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 358-374, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kajal Lahiri & Wenxiong Yao, 2004. "A dynamic factor model of the coincident indicators for the US transportation sector," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(10), pages 595-600.
    2. Stock, James H. & Watson, Mark W., 1999. "Business cycle fluctuations in us macroeconomic time series," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-64 Elsevier.

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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics


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