Ragnar Frisch's Conception of Econometrics

Olav Bjerkholt and Ariane Dupont

Published in:

History of Political Economy, Vol. 42(1), 2010, 21-73


Ragnar Frisch (1895–1973) has arguably a stronger claim than anyone else on having originated the meaning of econometrics. He coined the term (in French) in his very fi rst essay in economics, “Sur un problème d’économie pure” (Frisch 1926b).1 The term itself may naturally be read from its Greek etymological origin as “measurement in economics.” The opening lines of his essay ran as follows: Intermediate between mathematics, statistics, and economics, we fi nd a new discipline which for lack of a better name, may be called econometrics. Econometrics has as its aim to subject abstract laws of theoretical political economy or “pure” economics to experimental and numerical verifi cation, and thus to turn pure economics, as far as is possible, into a science in the strict sense of the word. (Frisch [1926] 1971)

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Published Nov. 4, 2010 2:09 PM - Last modified Dec. 15, 2017 9:22 AM