On the accuracy of foreign trade statistics (1909-1935): Morgenstern revisited

Giovanni Federico, Antonio Tena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work questions Morgenstern's pessimistic results on the reliability of aggregate international foreign trade statistics: His comparisons using pairs of countries can only test the misclassification of a country's trade flow. Aggregation, by contrast, eliminates this problem. Therefore, testing the total value of imports and exports with the sum of the same trade flows as registered by their partner countries' statistics, leads to more encouraging conclusions on the aggregate data. Our results strengthen considerably one's trust in the reliability of pre-World War II foreign trade statistics. Diversity in individual countries' accuracy indexes can be partially explained by differences in freight factors and also by minor differences in compilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-273
Number of pages15
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics


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