GrowthGate?

Despite Climategate, even a superficial reading seems to indicate that there is enough evidence for effects of man-made activity on the climate.

Surprisingly, there is a lot less evidence for effects of man-made activity on something that actually is completely man-made: the rate of economic growth in each country.

I had this frustrating thought as I was reading an important new paper, “Determinants of Economic Growth: Will Data Tell?”

The paper gives a conclusive and resounding answer to the question in the title: no.

William Easterly, “Why there’s no “GrowthGate:” Frustration vs. Chicanery in Explaining Growth”, Aid Watch, 10 December 2009.

There is much more! Bill Easterly goes on to explain why “it has taken economists a lot of hard work to attain this level of sublime ignorance”, concluding “The only guilty ones might be those who continue to run growth econometrics today without acknowledging that our Three-Act Tragi-Comedy is so OVER.”

Derrill Watson, in a comment, cited three of Easterly’s own publications (1993, 1997, 2007) and accused him of belonging to the “guilty” group of GrowthGate researchers. In a brief response, Easterly explained that he was running regressions in LEVELS of per capita income; these – he alleges – are more reliable than GROWTH regressions. Easterly promises to provide us with further information on this distinction at a later date.

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One Response to “GrowthGate?”

  1. D. Watson says:

    Just for the record, I would think “accused” too strong a term. One of the things I admire about Easterly (as seen in White Man’s Burden) is his willingness to say, “I used to think X, and I was wrong.” I looked at it as giving him an opportunity for further clarification. In fact, that’s what he said about one of the three papers (with some caveats). For another he said that the results supported his current conclusion in that they were ‘negative’ results. But yes, we are still looking forward to that further illumination.