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Statistics and Politics in a “Knowledge Society”

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  • Enrico Giovannini

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Abstract

Several studies have analysed the characteristics of the knowledge society, as well as its impact on the production of "official" statistics. In this paper we will not enter into this debate, but we will try to analyse the role of statistics in building a knowledge society and improving the democratic control of policy makers. This issue is especially important because the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) dramatically reduced the cost of producing statistics: therefore, nowadays a huge number of organisations is able to produce statistical figures and indices, frequently picked up by media, just for advocacy purposes and this contributes to create a sense of "confusion" often reported by citizens about the real state of the economy and of the society. This "noise" does not help at all citizens to make the best possible choices, including the electoral ones, and this is not a good thing for the functioning of economic markets and the democracy. The paper initially analyses the relationships between information, expectations and economic theory, as well as the nexus between information and political sciences. In the second part, various approaches to the measurement of societal progress and the role of "key indicators" are presented and analysed. Moreover, theoretical models and empirical evidence about what citizens know on societal progress are discussed. Finally, the OECD project on the measurement of societal progress is presented. Plusieurs études ont analysé les caractéristiques d’une société de la connaissance, ainsi que son impact sur la production de statistiques « officielles ». Nous n’entrerons pas dans ce débat dans ce document, mais nous essayerons d’analyser le rôle des statistiques dans la construction d’une société de la connaissance et l’amélioration du contrôle démocratique des décideurs politiques. Cette question est particulièrement importante parce que

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 86 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 177-200

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:86:y:2008:i:2:p:177-200

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Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11135

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Keywords: Democracy; Economic theory; Statistics; Policy;

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  1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1975. "An Equilibrium Model of the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1113-44, December.
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  4. Michela Nardo & Michaela Saisana & Andrea Saltelli & Stefano Tarantola & Anders Hoffman & Enrico Giovannini, 2005. "Handbook on Constructing Composite Indicators: Methodology and User Guide," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2005/3, OECD Publishing.
  5. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Systematically Biased Beliefs About Economics: Robust Evidence of Judgemental Anomalies from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 433-458, April.
  6. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  7. Otto H. Swank & Bauke Visser, 2003. "Do Elections lead to Informed Public Decisions?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-067/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Emile Grunberg & Franco Modigliani, 1954. "The Predictability of Social Events," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 465.
  9. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
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