• English

UNECE and chief statisticians help to shape the future of economic statistics

Economic statistics are probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think of official statistics. The production of economic statistics is so central to the work of national statistical offices, and so essential for the operation of governments, businesses and societies, that it might seem set in stone.

But today the Bureau of the Conference of European Statisticians (mobilizing chief statisticians of Poland, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, Austria, Armenia, Finland plus OECD, Eurostat, CIS-Stat), meeting in Geneva, plus the chief statisticians of WTO, ILO and UNCTAD, showed that this is far from the truth. As economies change, so must economic statistics. In a high-level discussion on the future of economic statistics, these experts are debating issues including data gaps, thematic priorities, infrastructure and governance of economic statistics.

The ways that economies function are constantly evolving. Globalization and digitalization, the emergence of new and often precarious forms of work, the increasing importance placed on understanding and tackling inequalities, the integration of sustainability and climate change with economic statistics all call for ways to define, measure and classify vital information. The increasing digitalization of societies presents new possibilities for collecting and analyzing data, but also new challenges in what should be counted and where, for example.

To navigate these constant pressures to change, national statistical offices and international organizations have created a network of guidelines, frameworks and working groups. UNECE leads or is active in many of these groups: for example, on national accounts and global production arrangements, statistical business registers, consumer price indices, the measurement of human capital and wellbeing, and the exchange and sharing of economic data. Today's debate considered whether this global network of groups, which have evolved over time to meet current needs, are still all working efficiently together without overlap.

This discussion will feed into a broader global effort led by a group of Friends of the Chair on Economic Statistics established by the UN Statistical Commission. The group, led by Canada, is tasked with assessing whether the current system sufficiently covers the priorities identified by users, and whether the current governance and infrastructure supporting the system of economic statistics is sufficiently responsive and comprehensive.

Statistical cooperation at UNECE

From economic statistics and population and housing censuses, to pushing the boundaries of official statistics in areas such as climate change, international migration, wellbeing, and new methods like machine learning, UNECE’s work on statistics shapes the way statistics are produced across the world.

This work is performed in close cooperation with over 60 countries under the Conference of European Statisticians (CES).

Cooperation under CES guides international statistical work in the UNECE region and beyond, helping countries to align their priorities, identify new and shared challenges, and work together to address them. It also maximizes resource use and avoids duplication.

Read our factsheet to learn more: https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/stats/documents/Flyers/UNECE_work_on_statistics.pdf