Sunday, 3 April 2016

Independent review of UK economic statistics

Sir Charles Bean discusses the challenges of the digital revolution, the "knowledge economy",  in measuring economic statistics. The aim is to ensure that the statistics – and the methodologies used to construct them – evolve to better reflect Britain’s modern complex dynamics.

Of course the issues raised are not UK dependent, all countries face the same measurement problems.

Discussion of such problems is not new, For example Oxley, Walker, Thorns, Wang (2008) argued that a lack of good theory is holding back measurement. Just collecting more data is not enough. Many authors do not see that the problems measuring the "knowledge economy" brings can not be resolved by simply gathering better data. Without well thought out theory, the data we would be seeking to find would be yet another “known unknown”.

The abstract reads:
The world has embraced a set of concepts (knowledge driven growth) which are seen as the ‘core of future growth and wellbeing’ without any commonly agreed notion of what they are, how they might be measured, and crucially therefore, how they actually do (or might) affect economic growth and social wellbeing. The theory of how the mechanism works lacks important detail.

  • Les Oxley, Walker, Paul, Thorns, David, Wang, Hong (2008) ‘The knowledge economy/society: the latest example of “Measurement without theory”?’, The Journal of Philosophical Economics, II:1 , 20-54

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