The Messiness of Economic Analysis
By Arnold Kling
In summing up his reaction to Gregory Clark’s book, Tyler Cowen writes,
Greg wants an explanation with a Malthusian or a Ricardian rigor and logic. I believe our explanations will be more like those of history than of economics. That means lots of variables, lots of messiness in the causal chains, unclear predictive power, and the accretion of knowledge bringing less rather than more simplicity.
My not-yet-published review of Clark’s book comes to the same conclusion as Cowen. As Cowen puts it,
When it comes to what happened, Greg brings two new interrelated but distinct hypotheses to the table, namely labor quality and downward mobility. That’s two new hypotheses, and he makes a good case for each of them…
As I read Greg, he wants to replace extant explanations with his story. In my creative “rereading” of Greg, I want to add his two factors to extant explanations.