Clio_and_the_Economist_Making_Historians

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doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6419.2010.00649.x CLIO AND THE ECONOMIST: MAKING HISTORIANS COUNT David Greasley University of Edinburgh Les Oxley University of Canterbury Abstract. Cliometrics reconnected economic history and economics in the 1960s. The deeper foundations of cliometrics research lie in the longer standing traditions of quantitative history and the contemporaneous growth of the social sciences and computing. Early cliometrics research reinterpreted economic history through the lens of neo-classical economics. Over the past half century cliometrics has matured and now utilizes a broad array of theoretical perspectives and statistical methods to help understand the past. The papers introduced here illustrate the achievements of several key areas of cliometrics research and show how new theoretical perspectives, innovative data construction and sophisticated econometric methods are the hallmarks of the discipline. Keywords. Anthropometrics; Cliometrics; Human development index; Immigra- tion; Social savings; Social welfare programmes; Time series Cliometrics has been with us for half a century. At least it was in 1960 that the word itself was coined by Stanley Reiter to describe a style of quantitative history that linked clio, the muse of history with measurement or more succinctly metrics. Three years earlier a joint session of the Economic History Association and the National Bureau of Economic Research Conference on Income and Wealth was held in Williamstown, Massachusetts and many practitioners date the birth of cliometrics to those meetings. The task issue of the Journal of Economic History in 1957 was headed the integration of economic theory and economic history and contained some of the fruits of the pioneers’ discussions and a summary of the proceeding by Simon Kuznets. Regular workshops of cliometricians date from 1960 and the discipline laid strong foundations over the following decade, most especially in the USA. Fogel (1964) published Railroads and Economic Growth: Essays in Econometric History , which stimulated intensive methodological debate among historians worldwide. Very quickly the British Economic History Society commissioned a paper by Fogel ‘The new economic history: its findings and methods’ which was published in the Economic History Review in 1966. The ‘new economic history’ and ‘econometric history’ were at that time alternate labels for cliometrics. Journal of Economic Surveys (2010) Vol. 24, No. 5, pp. 755–774 C 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
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756 GREASLEY AND OXLEY The explicit connecting of economics with economic history was the hallmark of cliometrics as it developed in the USA. Reiter himself was a mathematical economist whose work included collaboration with economic historian Hughes to produce a paper, ‘The First 1945 British Steamships’ (Hughes and Reiter, 1958) published by the Journal of the American Statistical Association in 1958. That paper, along with a celebrated paper of two economists, Alfred Conrad and John
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