On the Inaccuracies of Economic Observations

Hardback

On the Inaccuracies of Economic Observations

Why and How We Could Do Better

9781802207842 Edward Elgar Publishing
Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, Professor of International Economics and Macroeconomics, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague, the Netherlands
Publication Date: June 2024 ISBN: 978 1 80220 784 2 Extent: c 240 pp
This informative book reveals the pervasive nature of large inaccuracies in economic statistics. Drawing on numerous real-world examples including case studies from advanced and developing countries, Peter van Bergeijk presents profound insights into how downplaying these errors undermines the scientific rigour of economic analysis and outlines how to manage uncertainty in economic analysis moving forward.

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This informative book reveals the pervasive nature of large inaccuracies in economic statistics. Drawing on numerous real-world examples including case studies from the COVID-19 pandemic, Peter van Bergeijk presents profound insights into how downplaying these errors undermines the scientific rigour of economic analysis, and outlines how to manage uncertainty in economic analysis moving forward.

Global in scope, the book reflects on the current problematic practices within economics, including measurement errors in the analysis of GDP, inflation, trade and employment. Chapters examine key case studies from advanced and developing countries, detailing how the persistence of measurement error impacted the assessment of these events at the time and in retrospect. The author further identifies the best practices for the assessment of error in statistics and equips the reader with the tools to self-assess inaccuracies in economic data in a way that improves evidence-based analysis and decision-making processes.

Championing a fresh perspective on econometrics, this book is vital for scholars and students of economics, data science and research methods. Additionally, policy analysts and data producers will value this book’s perspective on the reliability of their data and its provision of problem-solving strategies.
Critical Acclaim
‘A thought-provoking reminder that measuring our economy is not an exact science. This book is a compelling invitation to economists and statisticians to collaborate and increase transparency about the size of measurement error in economic data, so that these data are used responsibly for analysis and policy making.’
– Fabienne Fortanier, Director of Statistics, De Nederlandsche Bank, The Netherlands

‘Homo numerus needs to be tamed. It is not that quantitative analysis should be abandoned, only that precise data allied with precise language and absent of caveats can mislead. This book provides ample evidence and offers guidance on addressing these issues, challenging the myth that measurement error is an exclusively Global South problem. This important antidote goes beyond economics of relevance to public policy analysis generally.’
– James Mitchell, University of Edinburgh, UK

‘In times when disinformation damages the functioning of democracies, a book about honest – that is, scientific – communication about economic statistics is very welcome. This book invites producers and users of economic data to be more transparent about the inevitable inaccuracies in their figures and how you can report these inaccuracies.’
– Marcel Boumans, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
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