Statistics is a powerful tool of research into economic history. Quantitative economic history of the very recent past may, with some risk, be projected for use in policy formation. Statistics can suggest fields for theoretical research (by pointing out, for example, the greater cyclical variability of capital-goods production than of consumer-goods produc- tion). Statistical and historical research may determine the presence or absence of the conditions to which particular theories relate. Statistical work may help in judging the relative strengths of opposing influences described by theory.
THIS PAPER does not attack measurement in economics. It simply attacks naive exhortations to concentrate on gathering numbers. It shows why economists, who must be concerned with the behavior of people and not merely of things, can have little hope of finding stable numerical laws and constants (as distinguished from numerical facts of history). It shows how the essential function of measurement in the natural sciences is largely replaced in economics by direct empirical knowledge of the most generally applicable principles and concepts.
Assim disse Leland Yeager, em 1957 (*). Uma vez, provocativamente, perguntou James Buchanan: “o que os economistas realmente aprenderam desde Adam Smith”? A pergunta se aplica, claro, a todos os economistas, austríacos inclusos. O debate frutífero que vimos ao longo dos posts citados bem poderia ser resumido em similar pergunta: “há algo a se aprender após o que escreveu Mises ou Hayek”?
Eu acho que sim.
(*) Measurement as a Scientific Method in Economics, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, v.16, n.4, 1957.