In today’s data-saturated, highly visual and networked world, statistics are used by policymakers, researchers and journalists for just about everything. However, a veritable mix of government officials, economists and statisticians work – often against overwhelming odds - to produce data sets that are, paradoxically, often taken for granted, but also used as gospel in policy discussions.
Earlier this week, the World Bank celebrated the first ‘World Statistics Day,’ where the successes, challenges and future directions for collecting and analyzing economic development-related data were discussed.
The statistics discipline in the economic development field has seen some breakthroughs in the recent past.
Princeton University's Angus Deaton, a panelist at the event, pointed to the 2005 round of the largest international data collection exercise in the world, called the International Comparison Program, which collects internationally comparable price levels. This data set is critical for comparing living standards between countries.