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Towards a political economy of statistics


Presently, many countries are discussing the future of official statistical data production. As a contribution to this discussion, we shall examine in this article a number of methodological aspects of a ``political economy of statistics'', focussing on ``statistical operationalization'', which we see as a central challenge for data production in the field of economic and social activities. In a ``political economy of statistics'' it is assumed that the producers and users of statistical data behave self-interested and will try to shape the statistical infrastructure to meet their personal needs, which do not necessarily coincide with the socially optimal form of data provision. As a result, individual rationality and collective rationality may fall apart and create welfare losses for society. In this contribution we therefore ask how the process of statistical data production can be organized to benefit society in total and not only specific interest groups. To that end we shall combine insights from political economy with insights from statistical operationalization.



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