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I thought the social sciences underwent a "quantitative revolution" back in the 1950s. At least Geography did.

This is actually one of my hot buttons. Anybody can write an editorial, but if there's no underlying analysis, it's just an argument. I'm sure you're aware of the great argument about whether global climate change is correlated (inversely, in fact) to the number of pirates.
http://www.venganza.org/

by asdf on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 11:11:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that with mathematical models you often lose track of the intuition and the subtleties necessary to properly grasp what's going on, while additionally making the arguments inaccessible to the general public.  It's one thing to say "GDP growth was 2.2% in 2007."  But when you discuss the microeconomics that are the foundations of the macroeconomics -- how different people react in different ways, and to different degrees, given a set of incentives -- you can quickly find that words are simply the more effective means of explanation.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 11:34:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can see glimmers of a Leontieff-type model behind what Jerome is saying, but the econometrics of that are a bitch, and the end result is in terms of linear algebra at a level which is not all that high but in most US universities is considered upper-undergraduate for science students and graduate for social science students.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 11:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So while the physics students are learning tensor analysis so they can understand GR, the economic students are...
by asdf on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 11:42:17 AM EST
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...not.

There is no GR to understand in economics, either. Keynes' theory is very rish but I don't think it has been comprehensively mathematised, and it's not like Keynes thought it was necessary either.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 11:46:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The economics students are generally learning shit until they at least get into the intermediate-level coursework.  But even at the graduate level, they're just reading textbooks with a bunch of mathematical models.  If you want to learn real economics, then, in my view, you've got to read Smith, Keynes, Friedman (the economist, not the political commentator), etc.  Most of the economists these days are just goofing around with interpretations of the work of these people.

Paul Krugman is a notable exception among the younger economists, as someone who, in my opinion, is razor-sharp on the intuition and on the strengths and weaknesses of the mathematics.  Same goes for Stiglitz and DeLong.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 11:48:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf:
This is actually one of my hot buttons. Anybody can write an editorial, but if there's no underlying analysis, it's just an argument.

Lots of maths in the FT and the Econo. It's not like they ever pull an argument out of thin air and try to make it convincing by repeating it over and over, even if it's nonsense.

If you're looking for quantitative support, consider:

  1. Relative incomes
  2. Relative taxation
  3. Relative debt burden
  4. Income changes over the last thirty years
  5. Practical - i.e. High Street and Main Street - inflation increases.
  6. Dot com, oil, and housing bubbles.
  7. The current credit crunch.
  8. Fradulent trading including BCCI, Enron, and the current crop of bandits.
  9. Cultural changes and increasingly abusive work practices.
  10. Union busting.
  11. Deliberate use of outsourcing and immigration to drive down wage prices.
  12. Constant media calls for 'reform' - juxtaposed explicitly againts worker income and job security.

I'm sure there's plenty there to keep you busy investigating real numbers.

Of course, apart from all of those - and it's not a complete list by any means - there's no evidence of a problem at all.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 12:17:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those measures also have the advantage of being accessible to the typical reader.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 03:05:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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