Skip to content


Case 1: Lab – Exploring economic data /2547

Please note that this is computer lab session. No specific preparation is required: materials will be provided in class.

w4/5 Task sheet

All the labs have now run, with the last one today. Any student who did not attend the week 4 labs can still gain a 40% mark by completing the worksheet and emailing it within 14 days of the lab session. After 12 on Friday 1st Nov, this will apply to any student who did not attend the week 5 lab.

* There will be participation and engagement marks from your activities undertaken in the lab. *

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?