16 September 2009

Measure for Measure

Well, the International Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, a panel of smart economists chaired by Joseph Stiglitz has just issued issued a report on improving the ways we might better conceptualize and provide improved quantitative indicators of economic well-being. Stiglitz wrote this short Op-Ed in The Financial Times a few days ago in which he gives a snapshot of the enterprise. You can find a link to the complete report (nearly 300 pages long) at the Commission web site here.

The important premise of he report can be summed up in this comment from Stiglitz: "What we measure affects what we do." Statistics do not just capture or represent an independently existing reality, they get incorporated via politics, policy and economic activity into - that is, they become constitutive of - our practices and institutions.
P.S.: You can find a variation on Stiglitz's Op-Ed here at Project Syndicate.

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