Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, 29 March 2017

The rise of economic inequality is one of today’s most hotly debated issues. But a disconnect between the different data sets used to measure and understand inequality makes it hard to address important economic and policy questions. In this column, the authors highlight the findings from their attempt to create inequality statistics for the US that overcome the limitations of existing data by creating distributional national accounts.

Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 01 March 2017

Policymakers and economists have been looking for ways to make it easier to manage increasing debt burdens. This column assesses one possible solution: GDP-linked bonds that tie the size of debt payments to an economy’s wellbeing. There are clear benefits to a government from issuing GDP-linked bonds, but establishing investor confidence in these instruments will require a better approach to the obstacles posed by data revisions and changes in methodology.

Andrea Brandolini, 27 February 2017

Sir Tony Atkinson, the doyen of inequality economics, passed away in January. This column, by a longstanding friend and co-author, outlines his contributions to the analysis and measurement of inequality – and many other areas of economics, including taxation, social protection, and the welfare state. The ultimate goal of Atkinson’s research was to translate economic analysis into policy actions: economics is a tool for understanding the world and taking informed decisions on policies, but economists must strive to communicate their results beyond the narrow circles of decision-makers, making them accessible for public discussion.

Lucian Cernat, Marion Jansen, 07 February 2017

For some time, it was possible to win over trade sceptics by providing explicit numbers reflecting the losses from protectionism. Now it seems that the larger public has become indifferent to evidence-based debates. This column argues for increased use of micro-evidence and firm-level data in policy debates to make the case for trade. By linking trade to personal well-being, an increased focus on micro-economic evidence can generate stronger narratives and greater credibility among voters.

Lucian Cernat, 17 January 2017

The availability of statistics on services by modes of supply has been a longstanding priority for trade negotiators and an important element of other trade policy priorities. Based on a recent Eurostat project, this column presents the first such estimates for EU trade in services. It also explores possible avenues for building a global services dataset by modes of supply building on the latest European initiatives in this area.


The aim of the conference is to reflect on the limits of current data used to study migration and to connect producers and academic users of migration data. The organizing committee invites the submission of high-quality academic papers that use different datasets (administrative, survey, experimental). A roundtable will be organized with stake-holders that facilitate data collection and dissemination (DGEF, IAB, INED, OECD).

Key note speaker: Herbert BRÜCKER (University of Bamberg, IAB, IZA) “Causes and consequences of refugee migration: new evidence from the German refugee survey”

If you would like to submit a paper please send an email to [email protected]. In the case of multiple-authored papers, indicate who will present and whether or not the presenter would also be willing to act as a discussant. Authors will be notified about the acceptance of papers and the conference programme by the end of March, 2017.


Charles Bean, 31 March 2016

The increasingly digital 21st century economy – with many zero-priced goods and services – is a challenging place for those striving to measure economic activity. This column reviews some of the main themes of the Bean Report on UK economic statistics. It suggests the exploitation of new data sources and the creation of a network of academics, private sector actors, and expert users. They would undertake research and development into the measurement of the economy and propose experimental statistics to capture the new phenomena.

Diane Coyle, 08 February 2016

Digital technologies are having dramatic impacts on consumers, businesses, and markets. These developments have reignited the debate over the definition and measurement of common economic statistics such as GDP. This column examines the measurement challenges posed by digital innovation on the economic landscape. It shows how existing approaches are unable to capture certain elements of the consumer surplus created by digital innovation. It further demonstrates how they can misrepresent market-level shifts, leading to false assessments of production and growth.

Charles Bean, 22 December 2015

Economic statistics are an important public good and governments typically recognise this by supporting their production, ideally through an independent agency. But producing reliable and meaningful statistics is by no means easy. In this column, former Bank of England Deputy Governor Charles Bean presents the findings from his forthcoming report on the UK’s current and future statistical needs. Addressing the challenge of measuring a modern dynamic economy not only requires statistical organisations to have the right skills, methods and technological systems – they also need to be pro-active and creative, curious and self-critical.

Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 27 September 2014

As demonstrated by the dramatic upward revision of Nigeria’s GDP for 2013, the choice of a benchmark year matters when computing GDP statistics. This column explains how the replacement of benchmark years creates an inconsistency between new and old national accounts series, and how different ways of resolving this inconsistency yield very different estimates of historical GDP levels and growth rates. When used to evaluate the relative historical performance of Spain and France, the interpolation procedure for splicing national accounts produces more plausible results than the conventional ‘retropolation’ approach.

Borağan Aruoba, Francis Diebold, Jeremy Nalewaik, Frank Schorfheide, Dongho Song, 03 December 2013

GDP can be estimated by measuring either expenditure or income. Since a penny spent is a penny earned, both methods should give the same answer, but there is substantial measurement error in both estimates. This column presents a new method of measuring US GDP that blends these two estimates. According to the new measure, GDP growth is about twice as persistent as the current headline measure implies. The new measure also makes the current recovery look stronger, especially in 2013.

Martin Cihák, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Erik Feyen, Ross Levine, 25 April 2013

Is there too much financial development, or too little? Can economists even measure it well? This column argues that commonly used measures of financial development are poor proxies of what the financial system actually does, presenting a new worldwide database that aims to fill some of the gaps. There needs to be a stronger link between the theory and measurement of financial development.

Harry Wu, 28 July 2010

In this column in memory of Angus Maddison, Harry Wu pays tribute to a mentor, friend, and pioneer who mapped economic performance across the world, and nurtured a passion for Japan and China.

Martin Ravallion, 26 March 2010

The World Bank’s estimate of China’s real GDP per capita was revised down by 40% in 2005. This column explains how economic growth impacted price structures in developing countries -- impacts that had not been factored into how old PPPs were updated prior to new price surveys. It argues that large revisions could be avoided by using better economic models for predicting PPPs.

Simon Johnson, Arvind Subramanian, Will Larson, Chris Papageorgiou, 07 December 2009

The Penn World Table is a major data source for many studies of economic growth. This column reveals that its GDP statistics are surprisingly sensitive to revisions – GDP growth for the same country at the same point in time changes across successive versions. Researchers analysing annual data may obtain more robust results by using national accounts data, even though they are not PPP-adjusted.