Saturday, June 14, 2014

Another 180 on Piketty's Measurement

My first Piketty Post unabashedly praised Piketty's measurement (if not his theory):
"Piketty's book truly shines on the data side. ... Its tables and figures...provide a rich and jaw-dropping image, like a new high-resolution photo of a previously-unseen galaxy. I'm grateful to Piketty for sending it our way, for heightening awareness, and for raising important questions."  
Measurement endorsements don't come much stronger.

Then I did a 180. Upon belatedly reading the Financial Times' Piketty piece, I felt I'd been had, truly had. Out poured my second Piketty Post, written in a near-rage, without time to digest Piketty's response.

Now, with the benefit of more time to read, re-read, and reflect, yes, I'm doing another 180. It seems clear that the bulk of the evidence suggests that the FT, not Piketty, is guilty of sloppiness. Piketty's response is convincing, and all-told, his book appears to remain a model of careful social-science measurement (thoughtful discussion, meticulous footnotes, detailed online technical appendix, freely-available datasets, etc. -- see his website).

Ironically, then, as the smoke clears, my first Piketty post remains an accurate statement of my views.

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