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By Lindert P.H.

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Extra info for Growing public, vol. 2 Further evidence

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In the most nihilistic variant, every case is hopelessly unique. Certainly, the undeniable role of long history constrains the usefulness of imagining that countries might suddenly shift their independent-variable attributes. There is a simple rule to follow in deciding what counterfactual changes of historical path are plausibly predicted by the regression data: Stay within the sample range. This guideline imposes two kinds of constraints on the counterfactual histories we dare to imagine – a sample-border constraint and a speed-limit constraint.

No amount of pretending not to need such counterfactuals can ever be persuasive. 8 Any attempt to interpret patterns over time and space has to have a clear view of what kinds of counterfactual histories it dares to propose. Are we really willing to say that if the United States had had Sweden’s values of the independent variables, it would have behaved like Sweden? Would Sweden have behaved like Japan with Japan’s independent variable values? Comparisons over time pose the same issue of interpreting counterfactuals.

Benign” nondemocracy here refers to a polity with an autocracy rating of zero, but with enough impediments to legislative effectiveness and enough power of the monarch for me to disregard any suffrage rates, setting them at zero despite the occurrence of elections. The only pure example in the sample is Norway 1898–1913, though prewar Belgium came close, with autocracy = 1. For Greece in the 1920s, I used the Banks data series on secondary and higher education rather than the less complete Mitchell series.

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