I’m writing about GDP in particular and economic statistics in general again – can’t keep off the subject (& by the way, [amazon_link id=”0691169853″ target=”_blank” ]GDP[/amazon_link] is out now in paperback!) Today I picked up Adam Tooze’s marvellous 2001 book [amazon_link id=”0521039126″ target=”_blank” ]Statistics and the German State 1900-1945[/amazon_link]: “This book … has sought to portray the construction of a modern system of economic statistics as a complex and contested process of social engineering … A functioning statistical system … implied a particular model of political order and in particular a vision of the relationship between state and civil society.”
The national accounts framework in place today is a modernist project. Like so many of these, it is being unravelled in unpredictable ways by technology, globalisation, and the changing character of the state. My writing task today is responding to the call for evidence on the current Review of Economic Statistics. It’s a tall order to say something succinct about getting from the categorisation of the world coded into current statistics to something closer to (disordered) realities, especially when there is an important element of performativity in statistical categories.
[amazon_image id=”0521039126″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Statistics and the German State, 1900-1945: The Making of Modern Economic Knowledge (Cambridge Studies in Modern Economic History)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0691169853″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History[/amazon_image]