Tag Archives: John H. Coatsworth

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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