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Date :  2009-10-27
Language :  English
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Gurría calls for ‘new generation’ of statistics to reinforce public confidence in government

Author :  OCDE / OECD

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría has warned that unless a new generation of statistics is developed to measure social progress and well-being, people may lose confidence in institutions and in the capacity of governments to address their problems.


Speaking on the opening day of the OECD’s Third World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Busan, Korea, Mr Gurría said the way forward would require political will. “We have to restore trust – particularly in the wake of the economic crisis - and we can only achieve this if policy action has tangible impacts on people's lives.” (Read the speech in full)

We need tools to measure what is going on in our society. “Economic resources are not the only things that matter,” he added. “To capture well-being, we have to measure the expectations and level of satisfaction of individuals, how they spend their time, their paid and unpaid work, their capabilities, the relations they have with other people, their political voice and their participation in public life”.

“The gap between macroeconomic evidence and people’s perception does not result from low quality of official statistics, but from their inappropriate use. This can lead to biased analysis and wrong policy targets. We need to go beyond the current measurement system, based on metrics of production, to a system that genuinely focuses on societal well-being and progress.

We need to focus on sustainability issues, such as, the state of our biosphere and metrics related to "green growth". We should also measure various forms of inequalities (in income, wealth, health, education and political voice), with particular emphasis on those that result from the accumulation of weaknesses or handicaps.”

Political momentum for developing better and broader statistics is building. The OECD’s Statistics, Knowledge and Policy project – launched in 2004 – has been reinforced by the recommendations of an international commission set up by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Stiglitz Commission. At their September 2009 summit the G20 leaders called for an improvement in measurement methods “to better take into account the social and environmental dimensions of economic development”. The OECD stands ready to deliver on these expectations, Mr Gurría said.

The OECD World Forum in Busan, he added was an “important step forward in an ambitious agenda – to bring together experts, policy makers and civil society and business leaders to provide guidance on better measures and methodologies for lasting progress.”



- All sessions of the Forum will be open to the media. Separate press briefings will also take place during the event. Further information for journalists about is available at www.oecdworldforum2009.org, the OECD Media Division (tel: + 33 1 4524 9700) or at Measuring the Progress of Societies on the OECD website.



>> Read what the papers are saying:

New ways to assess well-being (The Straits Times)

A crisis of statistics, by Angel Gurría (European Voice)

OECD chief upbeat about Korea's economy (The Korea Herald)

>> Watch key experts sharing their thoughts on how to measure progress


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