A term formed by compounding the muse of history and the concept of measurement, devised by its practitioners to describe the ‘new quantitative economic history’ which developed in the United States during the late 1950s, and rapidly became controversial in the American and European historical community. Cliometricians applied sophisticated statistical techniques (such as regression analysis) to historical data, and (to cite the example of two of the most prominent studies) attempted to calculate the profitability of slavery in the period before the American Civil War, and to quantify the contribution of the American railroads to economic growth (see, Time on the Cross, 1974, and’s Railroads and American Economic Growth, 1964).
Cliometric work was controversial, not only because of the usual distrust of (usually reconstructed) numerical data and the (occasionally questionable) use of advanced statistical techniques, but also because the most prominent studies framed their hypotheses in the novel form of explicit counterfactuals . That is, for example, they asked the question ‘What would have happened if the railroads had not been built?’ Most also rested on what were deemed to be the rather narrow behaviourist assumptions of neo-classical economics .
With hindsight, it is easy to see that the new quantitative history was not in fact all that novel, since many of the leading economists and economic historians of the early twentieth century made liberal use of quantitative historical data and neo-classical theory respectively. The use of large-scale data-sets, further encouraged by developments in computer technology, is now established practice in modern history. In contemporary usage, the term cliometrics is still commonly applied to systematic attempts to apply social science theory and statistical analyses to historical data, but it no longer describes a sharply defined school. Cliometric analyses are now found across a wide range of substantive historical subject areas.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cliometrics — Cliometrics, sometimes called new economic history,[1] or econometric history,[2] is the systematic application of economic theory, econometric techniques, and other formal or mathematical methods to the study of history (especially, social and… …   Wikipedia

  • cliometrics — [klī΄ō me′triks΄] n. [< CLIO + Gr metron, measure: see METER1] the use of mathematical and statistical methods, and often of computers, in analyzing historical data cliometric adj. cliometrician [klī΄ōmə trish′ən] n …   English World dictionary

  • Cliometrics — A method of analyzing history through the application of quantitative methods. Also called new economic history, cliometrics uses economic theory and econometrics to gain insight into the past with modeling and statistics. Cliometrics was… …   Investment dictionary

  • cliometrics — noun plural but singular in construction Etymology: Clio + metrics (as in econometrics) Date: 1960 the application of methods developed in other fields (as economics, statistics, and data processing) to the study of history • cliometric adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cliometrics — cliometric, adj. cliometrically, adv. cliometrician /klee oh mi trish euhn, kluy oh /, n. /klee oh me triks, kluy oh /, n. (used with a sing. v.) the study of historical data by the use of statistical, often computerized, techniques. [1965 70;… …   Universalium

  • cliometrics — noun The use of econometrics to study economic history See Also: cliometric, cliometrician …   Wiktionary

  • cliometrics — n. study of economic history by application of advanced mathematical concepts and computerized techniques and use of statistics …   English contemporary dictionary

  • cliometrics — [ˌklʌɪə(ʊ) mɛtrɪks] plural noun [treated as sing.] a technique for the interpretation of economic history, based on the statistical analysis of numerical data from population censuses, parish registers, etc. Derivatives cliometric adjective… …   English new terms dictionary

  • cliometrics — clio·met·rics …   English syllables

  • cliometrics — cli•o•met•rics [[t]ˌkli oʊˈmɛ trɪks, ˌklaɪ oʊ [/t]] n. (used with a sing. v.) sta the statistical study of historical data • Etymology: 1965–70 cli o•met′ric, adj. cli o•met′ri•cal•ly, adv. cli o•me•tri′cian mɪˈtrɪʃ ən n …   From formal English to slang

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