Robbins on Economic Generalizations and Reality in the Light of Modern Econometrics

18 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2009

See all articles by Roger E. Backhouse

Roger E. Backhouse

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Steven N. Durlauf

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

This paper examines Lionel Robbins' critical attitude towards formal empirical work from the standpoint of modern econometrics. It argues that his attitude towards empirical work rested on indefensible assumptions and that he failed to realise that the role he saw for empirical work undermined his belief in the primacy of economic theory. This matters because Robbins' attitudes are echoed in modern economics, best exemplified by the calibration methodology of Kydland and Prescott, which is vulnerable to similar criticisms.

Suggested Citation

BACKHOUSE, ROGER E. and Durlauf, Steven N., Robbins on Economic Generalizations and Reality in the Light of Modern Econometrics. Economica, Vol. 76, Issue s1, pp. 873-890, October 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1484195 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0335.2009.00805.x

ROGER E. BACKHOUSE (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Steven N. Durlauf

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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