Political Arithmetic: Simon Kuznets and the Empirical Tradition in Economics

& others. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2013. 160p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226256610. $32. ECON
This brief volume by Nobel laureate Fogel (economics, Univ. of Chicago; Time on the Cross), Enid M. Fogel (formerly assoc. dean of students, Booth Sch. of Business), Mark Guglielmo (economics, Bentley Univ.), and Nathaniel Grotte (assoc. dir., Ctr. for Population Economics) is a worthy effort to celebrate the accomplishments of Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets (1901–85) and his contributions to empirical economics. The authors mix biographical vignettes, theoretical perspectives, and historical background of key thinkers and institutions in a condensed style that occasionally lacks transitions. Fogel uses Kuznets's practical insights to remind today's economists that while building elegant models they should not forget their most important task of ultimately describing the real world. Kuznets's groundbreaking work on national income measurement and quantitative economic history is still unmatched, and this volume concisely illustrates why.
VERDICT Recommended to the reader with an intermediate familiarity with economic thought, in particular as a primer on Kuznets, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and national income measurement.

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