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Case 1: Lab – Exploring economic data /2547

Please note that this is computer lab session.

Case 1 Task sheet

Dataset links:

Maddison Project

Clio Infra

Gapminder

The purpose of the session is to explore the economic history data available in a range of public datasets. Specific instructions will be provided in the labs.

The economic growth database from the Maddison Project forms a component of the Clio Infra dataset. In 2014, Clio Infra and the OECD published How Was Life? Global well-being since 1820 . We will draw on this source in a number of lectures.

Background reading

Bolt J et al (2018), REBASING ‘MADDISON’: NEW INCOME COMPARISONS AND THE SHAPE OF LONG-RUN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, GGDC Research memorandum, 174, January

Bolt, J and van Zanden, JL (2013), The First Update of the Maddison Project: Re-­Estimating Growth Before 1820, Maddison-­Project Working Paper WP-­4
[ The working paper discusses the re-estimation of economic growth prior to 1820, as it reviews recent work in the field and addresses some of the methodological issues involved. ]

Reflective question [for your w25 Reflective journals]

“Limitations to data quality also means that estimating the growth of GDP per capita over many decades, or even centuries, is a hazardous undertaking that, despite the best effort of statisticians and researchers, will always be surrounded by a degree of uncertainty.”
Bolt et al (2018:4)

What implications does such uncertainty have for the economic historian attempting to build a picture of past economic activity?