November 6, 2009
A powerful public good....
By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig
I read an interesting article today from Andrew Reamer of the Brookings Institution about the value of economic statistics. They are something that you become so accustomed to working with when you are either a teacher or student of economics. For example, there are dozens of ways to look at GDP, Unemployment, CPI, etc. As an instructor, I have given assignments such as -- go and look up the "jobs report" and figure out who publishes the data, how is it compiled, and what are its shortcomings.
However, I have never really thought of the statistics themselves as public goods. To some extent, these data sets make the analytical world go round and yet we rely on tax-payer monies to compile them. The article does an interesting job of providing examples of projects that were cut when the budgets were cut and how our statistics have suffered. (Who has ever thought of what the return on investment is for these statistical organizations?)
At any rate, I thought the article was both food for thought for those that regularly use these statistics and an interesting example of a public good.
The article also forced me to ask whether or not enough economic data is in the public domain; what do you think?
Posted by Cindy at November 6, 2009 8:57 PM
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