Mathematization of an Economy

Planning the Mathematization of an Economy: Leontief's Inter-industry Input-Output Analysis and its Global Circulation

Hong Hong Tinn


Wassily Leontief. International Statistical Conferences: Econometric.

Honghong Tinn’s research project, entitled “Planning the Mathematization of an Economy: Leontief’s Inter-industry Input-Output Analysis and its Global Circulation,” examines the history of the inter-industry input-output analysis as a theory, practice, and technology that assisted in the state intervention in economy since the mid-twentieth century. Input-output analysis became a stable and widely-accepted method to aid regional and national economists and bureaucrats in predicting the effects of one industry’s change on other industries in the 1960s. It provided its users with a set of mathematized, quantitative, and seemingly “scientifically” based concepts of inter-industry relationships in their economic engineering. The project critically examines the knowledge and skills that made the input-output analysis work through the study of how economists viewed, managed, and experimented with economic data to develop and stabilize theories, practices, and technologies for implementing the input-output analysis.

The project draws on and contributes to the wider literature on state intervention in the economy and the quantification of economic activities. By examining the processes that underpinned the mathematization of an economy through input-output analysis, it reveals the underlying historical tensions and contingencies needed to visualize, represent, and make sense of economic activities around the world.