Econometrics as a Pluralistic Scientific Tool for Economic Planning: On Lawrence R. Klein's Econometrics
CES Working Paper No. 2014.80
28 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2016
Date Written: October 30, 2014
Lawrence R. Klein (1920-2013) played a major role in the construction and in the further dissemination of econometrics from the 1940s. Considered as one of the main developers and practitioners of macroeconometrics, Klein’s influence is reflected in his application of econometric modelling “to the analysis of economic fluctuations and economic policies” for which he was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1980. The purpose of this paper is to give an account of Klein’s image of econometrics focusing on his early period as an econometrician (1944-1950), and more specifically on his period as a Cowlesman (1944-1947). Independently of how short this period might appear, it contains a set of fundamental publications and events, which were decisive for Klein’s conception of econometrics, and which formed Klein’s unique way of doing econometrics. At least four features are worth mentioning, which characterise this uniqueness. First, Klein was the only Cowlesman who carried on the macroeconometric programme beyond the 1940s, even if the Cowles had already abandoned it. Second, his pluralistic approach in terms of economic theory allowed him not only to use the Walrasian framework appraised by the Cowles Commission and especially by T.C. Koopmans, but also the Marxian and Keynesian frameworks, enriching the process of model specification and motivating economists of different stripes to make use of the nascent econometrics. Third, Klein differentiated himself from the rigid methodology praised at Cowles; while the latter promoted the use of highly sophisticated methods of estimation, Klein was convinced that institutional reality and economic intuition would contribute more to econometrics than the sophistication of these statistical techniques. Last but not least, Klein never gave up what he thought was the political objective of econometrics: economic planning and social reform.
Keywords: Economic Epistemology, History of Econometrics, History of Macroeconometric Modelling, Pluralism in Econometrics, Lawrence R. Klein, Cowles Commission
JEL Classification: B23, B31, B41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation