Can official statistics change lives (and how do we know)?

Date: Friday 23 April 2021, 12.00PM - 1.15PM
Section Group Meeting
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Nicolas Sarkozy wrote of his firm belief that “we will not change our behaviour unless we change the ways we measure our economic performance”. This is one of many expressions of a desire to go “beyond GDP”. We now have a proliferation of wider measures, but will they result in behaviour change? In this talk we focus on the role of official statistics, of which GDP is a well-known if little understood example. Official statistics are envisioned as an indispensable element in democratic society and certainly not just for use within government. Our research has found more about how official statistics should be used than about how they are used (or why they are not used). We explore how official statistics could be used more widely, recognising that they are part of an increasingly complex data ecosystem. Current calls to shift the emphasis from official statistics to public data appear to suggest a promising if challenging way ahead.

The webinar will provide an opportunity for:

Members of the audience to respond to an analysis of the role of official statistics, based on the Beyond GDP agenda.
People producing official statistics to discuss how they see their role.
People using official statistics to discuss their value and that of other data sources that they might draw on.

Paul Allin is a visiting professor of statistics at Imperial College London.  His research interests are the measurement of national wellbeing and progress, and the use of these measures in politics, policy, business and everyday life. He chairs the Statistics User Forum. Paul spent forty years as a professional statistician, researcher and policy analyst in the Office for National Statistics and other UK government departments and agencies.
This talk draws on Paul’s new book, written with David Hand, “From GDP to Sustainable Wellbeing: Changing Statistics or Changing Lives?" - details here.

Peter van de Ven (Head of National Accounts at the OECD) and Grant Fitzner (ONS Chief Economist)
Official Statistics Section - David Beckett
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