Historical Data: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them

41 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2020

See all articles by Paola Giuliano

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Andrea Matranga

Chapman University

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Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

The use of historical data has become a standard tool in economics, serving three main purposes: to examine the influence of the past on current economic outcomes; to use unique natural experiments to test modern economic theories; and to use modern economic theories to refine our understanding of important historical events. In this chapter, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the types of historical data most commonly used in economic research and discuss a variety of issues that they raise, such as the constant change in national and administrative borders; the reshuffling of ethnic groups due to migration, colonialism, natural disasters, and many other forces. We also point out which methodological advances allow economists to overcome or minimize these problems.

Keywords: censuses, ethnographic data, geographical data, Historical data

JEL Classification: N0

Suggested Citation

Giuliano, Paola and Matranga, Andrea, Historical Data: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them (October 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15362, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3723551

Paola Giuliano (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Andrea Matranga

Chapman University

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