Toward a 'Text as Data' Approach in the History and Methodology of Economics: An Application to Adam Smith’s Classics

Forthcoming in Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Preprint available at: 10.31219/osf.io/mg3zb

30 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020 Last revised: 19 May 2022

See all articles by Matthieu Ballandonne

Matthieu Ballandonne

Ecole Superieure Des Sciences Commerciales D'Angers (ESSCA)

Igor Cersosimo

Ecole Superieure Des Sciences Commerciales D'Angers (ESSCA)

Date Written: May 7, 2020

Abstract

The fields of the history and methodology of economics have recently experienced a quantitative turn. Among the quantitative tools and methods recently used, text mining has received less attention. In this article, we apply a “text as data” approach to the study of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments. We first study these two classics through the lenses of readability and lexical richness indicators and sentiment analysis. We then determine the most relevant words and topics in the two books and, as case studies, we examine the specific topics of opulence, poverty, prosperity, sympathy, tax, war, wealth, and woman. Our results confirm some of the well-known differences between the two books (thus supporting the argument that text mining is a powerful and generally reliable tool for exploratory research on unknown documents), but also provide new insights about them.

Keywords: Adam Smith; Lexical diversity; Readability; Sentiment analysis; Text as data; Text mining

JEL Classification: B12; B41

Suggested Citation

Ballandonne, Matthieu and Cersosimo, Igor, Toward a 'Text as Data' Approach in the History and Methodology of Economics: An Application to Adam Smith’s Classics (May 7, 2020). Forthcoming in Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Preprint available at: 10.31219/osf.io/mg3zb, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3595120 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3595120

Matthieu Ballandonne (Contact Author)

Ecole Superieure Des Sciences Commerciales D'Angers (ESSCA) ( email )

1 rue Joseph Lakanal
BP 40348
Angers Cedex, 49003
France

Igor Cersosimo

Ecole Superieure Des Sciences Commerciales D'Angers (ESSCA) ( email )

1 rue Joseph Lakanal
BP 40348
Angers Cedex, 49003
France

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