Phillip's Curve Essay

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Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) was a Belgian social statistician who was a forerunner in demonstrating the importance of statistics to social science.Amongst his influences were Malthus, Fourier and Laplace (Lazarsfeld 1961, p. 280). Quetelet was convinced that knowledge of causes influenced the course of human affairs more profoundly than his contemporaries appreciated.Prior to the 1820s this type of knowledge was generally regarded in European intellectual circles as evidence of God’s hand in ordering the universe.Quetelet argued that the perfection of science could be judged by the ease in which it could be approached by calculation.Statistics emphasize the regularity of social processes, eliminating accidental and random elements in social events to enable a discovery of underlying laws governing phenomena.In this way Quetelet was a pioneer in developing a whole new methodology to be used in the social sciences.He felt that using statistics to gather social knowledge was the solution for the betterment of society. In 1820, Quetelet was elected to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Brussels.During this time he was engaged in a variety of projects where he applied algebra and geometry to demographic tables.In one instance, he utilized Belgian birth and mortality tables as the basis for the construction of insurance rates.He learned of the potential for such application of calculation to social matter from Malthus’s Essay on Population (Mc Donald 1993, p.236), Fourier’s statistical research on Paris and its environs in the early 1820s (Beirne 1987, p.1150), and, most of all, from the work of his friend and mentor, Laplace, on celestial mechanics (mechanique celeste), on the principles of probabilistic theory, and on the method of least squares (Mc Donald 1993, p.188).Originating from the gaming tables of the seventeenth century, the subject of probability had moved

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