Trygve Haavelmo's The Probability Approach in Econometrics (1944) has been widely regarded as the foundation document of modern econometrics. Nevertheless, its significance has been interpreted in widely different ways. Some modern economists regard it as a blueprint for a provocative, but ultimately unsuccessful, program dominated by the need for a priori theoretical identification of econometric models. They call for new techniques that better acknowledge the interrelationship of theory and data. Others credit Haavelmo with an approach that focuses on statistical adequacy rather than theoretical identification. They see many of Haavelmo's deepest insights as having been unduly neglected. The current paper uses bibliometric techniques and a close reading of econometrics articles and textbooks to trace the way in which the economics profession received, interpreted, and transmitted Haavelmo's ideas. A key irony is that the first group calls for a reform of econometric thinking that goes several steps beyond Haavelmo's initial vision; while the second group argues that essentially what the first group advocates was already in Haavelmo's Probability Approach from the beginning.
Trygve Haavelmo econometrics history of econometrics the probability approach econometric methodology Cowles Commission