academic discipline

Econometrics is the application of mathematics, statistical methods, and, more recently, computer science, to economic data and is described as the branch of economics that aims to give empirical content to economic relations.

Okun's law representing the relationship between GDP growth and the unemployment rate. The fitted line is found using regression analysis.

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  • Though he died in 1946, Keynes still dominated economics at Cambridge in the mid-1960s. It wasn't just that all the leading figures among the faculty, Richard Kahn, Joan Robinson, Brian Reddaway, David Champernowne, Nicholas Kaldor, and James Meade, had been his pupils and/or collaborators. It was the tone of the place. The study of economics, theoretical or empirical, was driven by the desire to improve the conduct of economic policy. This did not mean that pure theory was neglected. Indeed, in those years Robinson was fighting a stirring battle in the realms of high theory with Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Nor was Cambridge innocent of the cutting edge of econometric technique. Richard Stone, who, following Keynes's suggestions, had created the first modern national income accounts, was still director of the Department of Applied Economics where much of modern econometrics was pioneered. Nonetheless, we were taught that theory and technique should serve the higher cause of rational economic policies, and to use our newly learned econometric expertise to write essays on unemployment, or inflation, or the balance of trade, or some other topic at the top of the current political agenda.
  • Intermediate between mathematics, statistics, and economics, we find a new discipline which, for lack of a better name, may be called econometrics. Econometrics has as its aim to subject abstract laws of theoretical political economy or "pure" economics to experimental and numerical verification, and thus to turn pure economics, as far as possible, into a science in the strict sense of the word.
    • Ragnar Frisch (1926) "On a Problem in Pure Eco­nomics: Translated by JS Chipman." Preferences, Utility, and Demand: A Minnesota Symposium. 1926."
  • What makes a piece of mathematical economics not only mathematics but also economics is, I believe, this: When we set up a system of theoretical relationships and use economic names for the otherwise purely theoretical variables involved, we have in mind some actual experiment, or some design of an experiment, which we could at least imagine arranging, in order to measure those quantities in real economic life that we think might obey the laws imposed on their theoretical namesakes.
    • Trygve Haavelmo, "The probability approach in econometrics" in: Supplement to Econometrica. 12 91944), p. 5
  • In mathematical statistics, as well as econometrics, Ted Anderson is a scholar of immense stature. The scope and diversity of his research in statistical theory is almost a phenomenon in itself. Sometimes it seems that wherever one turns the subject, Ted's mark and influence is already firmly established. His books on multivariate analysis and time series rapidly became accepted as major treatises and are now integral parts of the bookshelves of every statistician.
  • Econometrics may be defined as the quantitative analysis of actual economic phenomena based on the concurrent development of theory and observation, related by appropriate methods of inference.
  • As an econ blogger, I get the sense that this is exactly how many Americans still think of economists--as self-appointed defenders of the free market, spinning theories to show that greed is good. Watching those old Milton Friedman videos, I wonder if that picture might have been accurate in the 1960s and 1970s. But some big things have changed in the field of economics, and America should know about them. Three big changes stand out in particular: Econ today is more data-driven, far less politically conservative, and in general much more like engineering than it used to be.
  • Econometrics is the name for a field of science in which mathematical-economic and mathematical-statistical research are applied in combination. Econometrics, therefore, forms a borderland between two branches of science, with the advantages and disadvantages thereof; advantages, because new combinations are introduced which often open up new perspectives; disadvantages, because the work in this field requires skill in two domains, which either takes up too much time or leads to insufficient training of its students in one of the two respects.
  • The possibility of a stable economic life with full utilization of our resources is still not sufficiently assured, and it is extremely important that it should be so assured, and that the whole world should accept this as a fact. The work that is being done in econometrics is massive, and undaunted by mathematical difficulties, but it appears, at any rate as viewed from outside, to be unclear as to its aim.
  • The successes of modern control theory in the design of highly accurate space navigation systems have stimulated its use in the theoretical analyses of economic and biological systems. Similarly, the effectiveness of computer simulation techniques in the macroscopic analyses of physical systems has brought into vogue the use of computer-based econometric models for purposes of forecasting, economic planning, and management.
    • Lotfi A. Zadeh Outline of a new approach to the analysis of complex systems and decision processes (1973) p. 28

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