Liberating African Economic History from the Tyranny of Econometrics – By Alex de Waal

There is a longstanding joke about Sudanese statistics: 87.7% of official figures are made up on the spot. Morten Jerven’s fabulous short book is a vindication of such skepticism, continent-wide and covering the last 25 years of economic analysis and policymaking. His aim is ambitious: nothing less than claiming that economists—specifically econometricians, who apply statistics to economic data to draw general conclusions—have got Africa badly wrong, and they have done so because they have succumbed to the problem of garbage in, garbage out, on a gargantuan scale. Jerven shows how the problem of bad data, has occurred at every stage from the generation of basic data points to the inferences from datasets that give the illusion of precision. Sophisticated correlations are worth nothing if the data points are wrong. READ MORE OF THIS STORY

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