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Sir Richard Stone, knighted in 1978 and Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1984, is one of the pioneering architects of national income and social accounts, and is one of the few economists of his generation to have faced the challenge of economics as a science by combining theory and measurement within a cohesive framework. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his “fundamental contributions to the development of national accounts,” but he has made equally significant contributions to the empirical analysis of consumer behavior. His work on the “Growth Project” has also been instrumental in the development of appropriate econometric methodology for the construction and the analysis of large disaggregated macroeconometric models.
Throughout his long and productive career, stretching over more than half a century, Stone has been an inspiration to applied econometricians all over the world. His influence goes well beyond his written work. He has made a lasting impact on the large number of (now prominent) economists and statisticians who visited the Department of Applied Economics when he was its Director. He is a scientist, a scholar, and above all, a gentleman. He gives generously of himself and is always willing to help the cause of applied econometrics. He has been a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge since 1945 and has served as the President of the Econometric Society (in 1955) and the President of the Royal Economic Society (during 1978–1980). In the interview that follows, Richard Stone gives us a delightful account of his time as a student at Westminster School, his early introduction to economics at Cambridge University, and he shares with us his memories and thoughts on a long and productive career. The interview was conducted in Stones' magnificent private library in Cambridge, and I hope that readers enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed recording it.
Further details of Richard Stone's biography and research activities can be found in:
Deaton, A. Stone, John Richard Nicholas. In J. Eatwell, M. Milgate and P. Newman (eds.), The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, Vol. 4, pp. 509–512. London: Macmillan, 1987.
Stone, J.R.N. An autobiographical sketch. In Les Prix Nobel 1984. Stockholm: Almquist and Wicksell International, 1985.
Professor Olav Reiersøl was born on 28 June 1908 in the
countryside in Norway. He enrolled at Oslo University in 1928, where
he studied chemistry, mathematics, physics, and botany. Choosing
mathematics as his main subject, he received the cand. real. degree
in 1935. As a graduate in mathematics and mathematical statistics he
was employed as an assistant by Professor Ragnar Frisch.
Jan Tinbergen is one of the founding fathers of
econometrics, publishing in the field from 1927
until the early 1950s. This was the frontier age of
econometrics when the distinction between
mathematical economics and econometrics, let alone
between theoretical and applied econometrics, did
not yet exist. Tinbergen's approach to economics has
always been a practical one. This was highly
appropriate for the new field of econometrics, and
enabled him to make important contributions to
conceptual and theoretical issues, but always in the
context of a relevant economic problem. The
development of the first macroeconometric models,
the solution of the identification problem, and the
understanding of dynamic models are perhaps his
three most important legacies to econometrics.
Tinbergen was awarded the first Nobel Memorial Prize
in economics in 1969 (jointly with Ragnar Frisch)
for his contributions to econometrics.
Tinbergen's desire to communicate his ideas to others
is matched by a talent for clear and direct writing.
This gives his econometric work great appeal and an
apparent simplicity which should not be
underestimated. This talent was also fruitfully
applied to the development of pedagogical tools for
teaching econometrics to his students.
Since the early 1950s Tinbergen's interests have moved
on and he has made notable contributions to such
diverse fields as the theory of economic policy,
development planning, and income distribution.
Tinbergen's political and pacifist views have always
been an important element in his economics, and
even, as this interview shows, his econometrics. His
overriding aim has been to improve the welfare of
the less fortunate in this world.
It is now 60 years since Tinbergen's first article in
economics appeared, yet he shows no signs of
retiring. We met him on May 27, 1986, in the study
of his house in The Hague, where he has lived for
most of his working life and which bears the
hallmarks of continued study and writing. Most of
the discussion during the afternoon concerned his
econometric work published in the 1930s and 1940s.
He gave us his views of those early
developments—both what he thought then and how he
sees them now. What follows is an edited transcript
of the conversation. We hope that this interview
will bring alive to the readers of the 1980s the
issues and difficulties faced by econometricians in
the 1930s, as well as Tinbergen's characteristic
response to those problems. One of Tinbergen's
attributes is a considerable modesty about his own
achievements; the reader should bear this in mind
when reading his remarks.
Econometrics as practiced by Arthur (Art) Goldberger demonstrates extraordinary sensitivity to issues of measurement and model specification, and unusual care and caution in interpretation of results, as well as a thorough and comprehensive mastery of econometric theory. His landmark 1964 book, Econometric Theory, set a new standard of rigor in econometrics, and at the same time treated the important problems posed by limited and qualitative dependent variables years before any other text. Art Goldberger's work ranges from early contributions to macro modeling through demand analysis, multivariate modeling with latent variables, and models for sample selectivity, to his highly regarded work on important social issues of heritability of IQ, effectiveness of public versus private schools, and measurement of salary discrimination. Goldberger's influential work, especially on modeling latent or unobservable variables, is widely known and applied in sociology and psychology as well as in economics. Art has been at Wisconsin for many years, and this association is an important reason for Wisconsin's continuing reputation as a leading center for quantitative social sciences.
The quality and influence of Art Goldberger's work has earned him many professional honors. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Statistical Association, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Art gave the Woytinsky Lecture at the University of Michigan in 1985.
This interview took place on May 5 in Art Goldberger's office overlooking Lake Mendota. Art's remarks cover a wide range of topics, and I hope they are of interest to social scientists generally as well as to econometricians.
Much of the credit for the outpouring of research on nonlinear models
in the 1970s—particularly limited dependent variable
models—should go to Takeshi Amemiya. His classic 1973
Econometrica article on estimation of the parameters of the Tobit
model  set a new standard for mathematical rigor in
theoretical econometrics. During his career, which spans nearly four
decades, Takeshi's research contributions to econometrics have
touched on most of the central models for empirical economics, including
linear and nonlinear simultaneous equations models, distributed lag
models, heteroskedastic and random coefficient models, qualitative
response models, censored and truncated regression and selection models,
transformed regression models, choice-based sampling models, and duration
models. His 1985 text, Advanced Econometrics ,
became the standard reference for second-year graduate microeconometrics
courses at the leading graduate programs in economics.
Takeshi's research accomplishments have been accompanied by
numerous professional honors. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society,
the American Statistical Association, and the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences and was awarded Guggenheim and Humboldt Fellowships. Takeshi also
has a distinguished record of professional service; he served briefly as a
co-editor of Econometrica and has been a co-editor of the
Journal of Econometrics since 1982.
This interview was conducted in Takeshi Amemiya's office at
Stanford University in March 2004. In recent years his interests have
turned to comparative study of Greek and Japanese culture and
mythology—his scholarship includes a Japanese translation of an
English research monograph on Aristotle's Ethics
—and the discussion starts with this topic before
turning to his unusual education, career as an econometric theorist, and
variety of outside interests. His remarks reveal both his careful
attention to detail and the dry humor that his colleagues and former
students (like me) savor.
Econometrics owes its essence and much of its ongoing vitality to the infusion of ideas from economic theory, the development of appropriate statistical methods, and the quantitative recording of economic phenomena. Each of these elements is an important source of energy for further scientific change. As professionals, we contribute to this evolution through research and teaching, most commonly in individual specialisms and all too frequently with little concern for holistic issues. Few economists indeed have the knowledge, the scientific expertise, and the professional experience to speak out with authority on the subject in its entirety and its scientific achievements. Even fewer command the respect of colleagues and authorities in neighboring disciplines, like mathematical statistics. For some time now, Edmond Malinvaud has stood out from the rest of our profession as a scholar who is uniquely qualified in this regard. His writings influence every field of economics. His advanced textbooks are cornerstones of graduate teaching programs. The scientific standards of his work set an example to the entire profession. And his recent evaluations of scientific accomplishments in quantitative economics have brought unity and direction to what was earlier just uncoordinated, individual research.