Friday, March 6, 2009

Understanding Economic Statistics: An OECD Perspective

A book review;

Good economic statistics are fundamental for good research and policymaking, and Understanding Economic Statistics: An OECD Perspective shows how to avoid confusion and get to the information the user really wants. Its aim is to help readers to better understand how to use economic statistics in general and OECD statistics in particular.

If you want to know how the production of international statistics is organised, who the main data producers are and what databases are available over the internet, this is the book for you. Students and researchers will find it useful in gathering the evidence they need to do their work. The book will help journalists and other analysts evaluate economic trends or assess the effectiveness of policies.

It starts by giving a brief account of how the demand for statistics has evolved over the last 50 years and also takes a look into the future. If you wish to know the difference between a trend, a cycle and a seasonal variation, or how an economic system is defined, or even how the growth of an economy is measured, then this book will tell you. Understanding Economic Statistics describes how the international statistical system is organised and tells us who the main producers of economic statistics are. It also contains references to the main databases available on the internet. A whole chapter is entirely devoted to the OECD’s own statistical work and shows how to compare the economic structure of OECD countries, or measure innovation or globalisation.

So, can you always believe the numbers you read? This book debates this question and helps distinguish between good and bad data, including official ones. Readers will quickly realise that, much to statisticians chagrin, not all policy decisions are based on them!

Chapter 1. The Demand for Economic Statistics
Chapter 2. Basic Concepts, Definitions, and Classifications
-The Economic System
-Economic Agents
--General Government
-Economic Aggregates
--Values at Current and Constant Prices
--Index Numbers
--Time Series
Chapter 3. The Main Producers of Economic Statistics
-The International Statistical System
-The OECD Statistical System
-The European Statistical System and the European System of Central Banks
Chapter 4. An Overview of OECD Economic Statistics
-Agriculture and Fisheries Statistics
-Energy Statistics
-Industry and Services Statistics
-General Government
-Science, Technology and Innovation
-Short-Term Economic Indicators
-Labour Statistics
-Income Distribution and Housholds' Conditions
-Monetary and Financial Statistics
-National Accounts
-OECD Economic Forecasts
-Territorial Statistics
-Economic History
Chapter 5. Assessing the Quality of Economic Statistics
-The Dimensions of Quality
-International Initiatives for the Evaluation of Quality

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