'It's Computerization, Stupid!' The Spread of Computers and the Changing Roles of Theoretical and Applied Economics

36 Pages Posted: 21 May 2016 Last revised: 11 Nov 2016

See all articles by Roger Backhouse

Roger Backhouse

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE)

Beatrice Cherrier

CNRS; National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - Center for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST); University of Paris-Saclay - Ecole Polytechnique

Date Written: October 2016

Abstract

This paper challenges the widely held notion that the developments in computing are sufficient to explain the recent turn to applied economics. Developments in computer hardware were undoubtedly important. Yet, economists' appropriation of the new techniques allowed by computerization were highly selective, and influenced by the development of software and ties with other scientific communities, by the availability of business and governmental data, by salesmanship to policy-makers, and by how epistemologically acceptable these approaches were made to other economists. In particular, theoretical work was not be transformed by computers the way it was in physics or biology. We conjecture that the most profound effect of the increased availability of computers may have been to challenge the demarcation between theory and applied work.

Keywords: Computers, Information Technology, Economics, Econometrics, Applied Economics, Software, Simulation

JEL Classification: B20, B23, B40, C00, C63

Suggested Citation

Backhouse, Roger and Cherrier, Beatrice, 'It's Computerization, Stupid!' The Spread of Computers and the Changing Roles of Theoretical and Applied Economics (October 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2781253 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2781253

Roger Backhouse

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics ( email )

Economics Department
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
EIPE Office, Room H5-23
3000 Dr Rotterdam
Netherlands

Beatrice Cherrier (Contact Author)

CNRS ( email )

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris, 75794
France

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - Center for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST) ( email )

15 Boulevard Gabriel Peri
Malakoff Cedex, 1 92245
France

University of Paris-Saclay - Ecole Polytechnique ( email )

55 Avenue de Paris
Versailles, 78000
France

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