I agree with much of this. A few responses.
As I see it, there are a couple of different reasons to fit hyperbolic growth models — or, rather, models of form (dY/dt)/Y = aY^b + c — to historical growth data.
I think the distinction between testing a theory and testing a mathematical model makes sense, but the two are intertwined. A theory will tend naturally to to imply a mathematical model, but perhaps less so the other way around. So I would say Kremer is testing both a theory and and model—not confined to just one side of that di... (read more)
Thank you Ben for this thoughtful and provocative review. As you know I inserted a bunch of comments on the Google doc. I've skimmed the dialog between you and Paul but haven't absorbed all its details. I think I mostly agree with Paul. I'll distill a few thoughts here.
1. The value of outside views
In a previous comment, Ben wrote:
My general feeling towards the evolution of the economy over the past ten thousand years, reading historical analysis, is something like: “Oh wow, this seems really complex and heterogeneous. It’d be very surprising if we could mo