Tag Archives: GDP

Was Argentina Really Better Off Than the United States in 1800?

Argentina’s economic history provides yet another example of the problem of Mickey Mouse numbers.

When a prominent economic historian provides a new estimate of something, it is likely that the estimate will be taken at face value. Other economic historians will cite it, so it becomes reified, until it is treated as fact, even when it is little more than fancy. John Coatsworth’s estimate of Argentina’s GDP in 1800 provides an example of this.

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Is the Penn World Table Credible?

Accepting Argentina’s GDP statistics in the new version of the Penn World Table would require a major rewrite of its post-war history.

Last year the eighth edition of the Penn World Table (PWT) was released to considerable fanfare – indeed, one commentator described it as ‘a special day for all researchers and practitioners of economics‘. Yet its series for Argentina raises more questions than it answers.

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Argentina: Decline or Urbanisation?

Argentina’s apparent decline during the twentieth century is more likely an illusion created by faulty GDP statistics.

Recently the Economist published a front-page feature on ‘The Tragedy of Argentina: A Century of Decline‘. By summarising the current scholarship on the ‘Argentine paradox’, the article demonstrates why the study of the country’s history remains so necessary.

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