Statistics in a disordered world

I’m writing about GDP in particular and economic statistics in general again – can’t keep off the subject (& by the way, is out now in paperback!) Today I picked up Adam Tooze’s marvellous 2001 book : “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]

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4 thoughts on “Statistics in a disordered world

  1. Pingback: Statistics in a disordered world | Homines Economici

  2. Coyles’ views are so very true that such sentiments should be repeated as the first thoughts in every economics article, letting the reader know that statistics are picked out to lend support to the perspectives of the author. They have to be. We can challenge each other if we know enough about the statistics that are contrary to a perspective or argument, but often it is so difficult to be ready with such enlightening statistics. Thanks!

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