Historical Data: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them

39 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020 Last revised: 2 Jun 2021

See all articles by Paola Giuliano

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Andrea Matranga

Chapman University

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Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

The use of historical data has become a standard tool in economics, serving three main purposes: to examine the influence of the past on current economic outcomes; to use unique natural experiments to test modern economic theories; and to use modern economic theories to refine our understanding of important historical events. In this chapter, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the types of historical data most commonly used in economic research and discuss a variety of issues that they raise, such as the constant change in national and administrative borders; the reshuffling of ethnic groups due to migration, colonialism, natural disasters, and many other forces. We also point out which methodological advances allow economists to overcome or minimize these problems.

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Suggested Citation

Giuliano, Paola and Matranga, Andrea, Historical Data: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them (October 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27967, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3714459

Paola Giuliano (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Germany

Andrea Matranga

Chapman University

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