A really nice paper by Prof Hugh Rockoff of Rutgers Univ.
He discusses an area which is seldom discussed in economic research which is origins of statistics/data which help us understand the trends in an economy. How and why did we start collecting data on things like inflation, employment and output? He discusses the US case:
Although attempts to measure trends in prices, output, and employment can be traced back for centuries, in the main the origins of the U.S. federal statistics are to be found in bitter debates over economic policy, ultimately debates over the distribution of income, at the end of the nineteenth century and during the world wars and Great Depression. Participants in those debates hoped that statistics that were widely accepted as nonpolitical and accurate would prove that their grievances were just and provide support for the policies they advocated.
Economists – including luminaries such as…
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