Measurement in Economics
Marcel J. Boumans
Utrecht University School of Economics; Tinbergen Institute
July 14, 2009
HANDBOOK OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF ECONOMICS, U Mäki, ed., Elsevier, Forthcoming
The Representational Theory of Measurement conceives measurement as establishing homomorphisms from empirical relational structures into numerical relation structures, called models. There are two different approaches to deal with the justification of a model: an axiomatic and an empirical approach. The axiomatic approach verifies whether a given relational structure satisfies certain axioms to secure homomorphic mapping. The empirical approach conceives models to function as measuring instruments by transferring observations of an economic system into quantitative facts about that system. These facts are evaluated by their accuracy and precision. Precision is achieved by least squares methods and accuracy by calibration. For calibration standards are needed. Then two strategies can be distinguished. One aims at estimating the invariant (structural) equations of the system. The other strategy is to use known stable facts about the system to adjust the model parameters. For this strategy, the requirement of models as homomorphic mappings has been dropped.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: calibration, error, instrument, model, precision, scale, standard
JEL Classification: B4
Date posted: July 18, 2009
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