Communicating Data Uncertainty: Experimental Evidence for U.K. GDP

Date: Monday 28 September 2020, 5.00PM - 5.45PM
Location: online
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Title: Communicating Data Uncertainty: Experimental Evidence for U.K. GDP
Speaker: Professor Ana Beatriz Galvão

Many economic statistics are subject to data revisions. But initial estimates of GDP growth are commonly published without any direct quantitative indication of their uncertainty. To assess if and how the public interpret and understand UK GDP data uncertainty, we conduct a randomised controlled experiment. The survey is designed to assess: (1) perceptions of the uncertainty in single-valued GDP growth numbers; (2) the public's interpretation and understanding of uncertainty information communicated in different formats; and (3) how communicating uncertainty affects trust in the data and the producer of these data. We find that the majority of the public understand that there is uncertainty inherent in GDP numbers, but communicating uncertainty information improves the public's understanding of why data revisions happen. It encourages them not to take GDP point estimates at face-value but does not decrease trust in the data. We find that it is especially helpful to communicate uncertainty information quantitatively using intervals, density strips and bell curves.

This is a joint work with Professor James Mitchell, Warwick Business School.
Ana Beatriz Galvão is Professor of Economic Modelling and Forecasting at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick. She is coordinator of the Macroeconomic Policy and Forecasting Network at WBS. Her research on empirical macroeconomics and forecasting has been widely published in leading academic journals such as Journal of Econometrics and the Journal of Business and Economics Statistics. Her recent research has focused on the measurement and communication of data uncertainty, asymmetries in the transmission of shocks to the macroeconomy, the impact of expert judgment in forecasting and applications of mixed frequency models. She is currently Associate Editor of the International Journal of Forecasting and the Journal of Applied Econometrics. 
Dr Andrei Bejan, Meetings Secretary of the Business & Industrial Section of Royal Statistical Society
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