A Brief History of Data Revolutions in Economics

Roundup: Media's Take
tags: data

Stephen Lohr is a economics writer for the New York Times.

Measurement is the lifeblood of economics. And today, economists are optimistic that all the new digital sources of information — Big Data, in the popular shorthand — will open the door to breakthroughs in the ability to measure, monitor and perhaps guide the economy. That is the subject of an article I wrote, which was published on Sunday.

Advances in technology have long fueled improvements in the measurement of populations and economic activity. Herman Hollerith’s punched-card tabulating machines, first used in the 1890 census, made it possible to efficiently count and categorize America’s surging population at the end of the 19th century. (And the Hollerith tabulating machines were the founding technology of the company that became I.B.M.)

In the early 20th century, the spread of automobiles and telephone service made it possible to expand and increase the frequency of the household surveys — done in person and by telephone — used to track employment and job losses....

Read entire article at New York Times

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