Big Data and Official Statistics

Paper by Katharine G. Abraham: “The infrastructure and methods for developed countries’ economic statistics, largely established in the mid-20th century, rest almost entirely on survey and administrative data. The increasing difficulty of obtaining survey responses threatens the sustainability of this model. Meanwhile, users of economic data are demanding ever more timely and granular information. “Big data” originally created for other purposes offer the promise of new approaches to the compilation of economic data. Drawing primarily on the U.S. experience, the paper considers the challenges to incorporating big data into the ongoing production of official economic statistics and provides examples of progress towards that goal to date. Beyond their value for the routine production of a standard set of official statistics, new sources of data create opportunities to respond more nimbly to emerging needs for information. The concluding section of the paper argues that national statistical offices should expand their mission to seize these opportunities…(More)”.