Political Arithmetic: Simon Kuznets and the Empirical Tradition in Economics

Fogel, Author, Robert William Fogel, Author, Enid M Fogel, Author, Mark Guglielmo, Author, Nathaniel Grotte, Author
Robert William Fogel, Enid M. Fogel, Mark Guglielmo, and Nathaniel Grotte. Univ. of Chicago, $32.50 (160p) ISBN 978-0-226-25661-0
Book - 163 pages - 978-0-226-02072-3
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Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets revolutionized the academic disciplines of econometrics and development economics, and was instrumental in the founding of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); perhaps more than anyone else in the 20th century, he shaped the way governments collect and analyze economic data and how quantitative methods are used to create strategies for growth. This brief volume, a collaboration of four pre-eminent economists, including Nobel laureate Fogel, puts Kuznets’s work in historical context and highlights the ways in which theory and research have influenced public policy. Written for specialists, the dense prose contains little expository information to guide the general reader, but presents a wealth of data useful to those with sufficient background. Brief sections focus on the role and status of academic economics; the history of the NBER; the development of the standards of national income accounting, exemplified most notably by the concept of a country’s GNP; and Kuznets’s methods and legacy. Modern readers may take for granted the idea of GNP, but Kuznets’s work illuminates how difficult it is to quantify advances such as increases in leisure and improved health care and education. Ultimately, the authors conclude that Kuznets, a proponent of the power of population growth to drive economic progress, was vindicated. (Apr.)
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