Business

Reinhart and Rogoff correct austerity research error

Anti-austerity demonstration in Greece 13 March 2013
Image caption The research has been used to support arguments for austerity

Two Harvard economists whose widely-cited research on austerity was called into question last month have published a formal correction.

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff acknowledged errors in the figures in their 2010 paper on government debt and economic growth.

They did not actually state a causal link between high levels of debt and falling rates of economic growth.

However, others have used the research to support austerity policies.

Flaws in the methodology in the paper first came to light when a masters student in the US found himself unable to replicate the findings of the study, called Growth in a Time of Debt.

A review by the student and his supervisors at the University of Massachusetts later found missing data, and questioned the way the academics calculated averages.

That called into question the conclusion that government debts equivalent to more than 90% of GDP negatively affect growth.

However, Professor Reinhart and Professor Rogoff maintained that at no point in their original research did they state that one causes the other, only that they are "associated".

This story was changed on 9 May 2013 to better reflect Professors Reinhart and Rogoff's views on association rather than causality in their work.

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