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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 le développement des tech
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Suggested Citation

  • Enrico Giovannini, 2008. "Statistics and Politics in a “Knowledge Society”," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 86(2), pages 177-200, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:86:y:2008:i:2:p:177-200 DOI: 10.1007/s11205-007-9137-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    3. 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.
    4. Emile Grunberg & Franco Modigliani, 1954. "The Predictability of Social Events," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 465-465.
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    6. Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2005. "(Why) are economists different?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 543-562, September.
    7. Christopher D. Carroll, 2003. "Macroeconomic Expectations of Households and Professional Forecasters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 269-298.
    8. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1975. "An Equilibrium Model of the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1113-1144, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oleg CARA, 2014. "Challenges Of Official Statistics In The Globalization Era," ECONOMY AND SOCIOLOGY: Theoretical and Scientifical Journal, Socionet;Complexul Editorial "INCE", issue 1, pages 121-127.

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    Keywords

    Democracy; Economic theory; Statistics; Policy;

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