PP5149 Big Data, Official Statistics, and Public Policy
Course instructor: Paul Cheung, PhD
Schedule: Monday 14:00 - 17:00
Location: Manasseh Meyer Building SR 3-1
High quality empirical evidence plays a critical role in formulating, monitoring, and evaluating sound public policies. Official statistics, as trusted, organized information, have served this purpose for centuries; their production is institutionalized and governed by internationally-agreed ethics and practices. Unstructured information, including Big Data and Geoinformation, has emerged recently, offering public policy new empirical basis for making decisions. This has been described as ‘Data Revolution’ by international organizations and the media. This course is designed for practitioners in the field of public policy to gain an in-depth understanding of the design and intricacies of structured statistical information (official statistics) and unstructured information such as Big Data and Geoinformation. The integration of these information sources will provide decision makers a significant competitive advantage in making sound empirically-based policy judgements.
- Identify information sources and examine their adequacy in public policy making, monitoring and evaluation.
- Gain divergent perspectives on the use of information in decision making in public policy.
- Obtain in-depth understanding of the latest discussion on ‘data revolution’ and ‘open data’ initiatives, the measurement limitations of structured and unstructured data, the multi-mode approach to information management, and the latest trends in data utilization.
- Provides students a sound basis to understand and assess various sources of data, including both structured and unstructured information, and to see how such information could be used in the context of public policy.
While every effort will be made to adhere to the schedule below, some flexibility and modification may be necessary.
Week 1: 13 August 2018
From Data to Policy: The Logic of Evidence-based Public Policy and Decision Making
Examine the use of information in public policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation and the rationale for the push for evidence-based decision making globally. Concepts such as ‘data revolution’ and ‘open data’ will be introduced. The changing paradigms of supply and demand of information will be examined.
- Scott, C. (2005). Measuring Up to the Measurement Problem: The role of statistics in evidence-based policy making.Paris21 Occasional Paper.
- Cartwright, N., Hardie, J. (2012). Evidence-Based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing It Better. Oxford University Press.
- Economics and Statistics Administration (2014).Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data. US Government.
- The Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (2015) A World That Counts: Mobilizing the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. United Nations.
Week 2: 20 August 2018
Official Statistics and Public Policy: Institutional Arrangements and Global Mechanisms
Discuss the intricacies of how official statistics is organized nationally and globally and the implications of such arrangements. Assess the manners in which global statistical standards are being formulated and disseminated.
- Ward, M. (2004). Quantifying the World: United Nations Ideas and Statistics. Indiana University Press.
- Holt, D. T. (2008). Official statistics, public policy and public trust. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 171(2), 323-346.
- Dilnot, A. (2012). Numbers and Public Policy: The Power of Official Statistics and Statistical Communication in Public Policymaking. Fiscal Studies, 33(4), 429-448.
- National Academies of Sciences (2017) Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency (6th edition).
- The Economists “Plunging response rates to household surveys worry policy makers”, 24th May, 2018.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). “Principles and Practices for a FNaederal Statistical Agency, Sixth Edition.” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24810.
Discuss the nature of official statistics in each country and how it is organized. Assess the importance of official statistics in policy formulation. Review the international arrangements of official statistics. Introduce the class assignment on policy brief.
Week 3: 27 August 2018
Measuring Economic Activities in a Globalized World
Examine the basis and adequacy of official statistics in measuring national economic activities within and across national borders. Discuss the difficulties of measuring new forms of economic transactions.
- Bean, Charles, (2016). “Independent Review of UK Economic Statistics”, Report commissioned by Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister for the Cabinet Office, UK.
- OECD (2008), Understanding Economic Statistics: An OECD Perspective. OECD Publishing.
- Cabinet Office, UK (2016) Independent Review of UK Economic Statistics. UK Government Publication.
- Gutierrez, C. M., Glassman, C. A., Landefeld, J. S. & Marcuss, R. D. (2007). Measuring the economy. A primer on GDP and the national income and products accounts. Bureau of economic analysis (BEA), US Dept. of Commerce, September.
- Stratford, K. (2013). Nowcasting world GDP and trade using global indicators. Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, 53(3), 233-242.
- OECD (2010). Measuring Globalisation: OECD Economic Globalisation Indicators 2010. OECD
- Bostic, William G. Jr., Ron S. Jarmin, and Brian Moyer. 2016. "Modernizing Federal Economic Statistics." American Economic Review, 106 (5): 161-64.
- Selected articles from ‘The Economists Explains’
Discuss issues on measuring economic activities in official statistics and the problems in measuring trade flows and value added. The range of economic surveys will be reviewed.
Week 4: 3 September 2018
Measuring the household sector: Poverty, Income Inequality and Cost of Living
Scrutinize the measurement of household economic attributes and the related indicators which are often targets of public policy.
- OECD (2011). Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. OECD Publishing.
- OECD (2013). OECD Framework for Statistics on the Distribution of Household Income, Consumption and Wealth. OECD Publishing.
- Cowell, F. (2011). Measuring inequality. Oxford University Press.
- Meyer, B. D. & Sullivan, J. X. (2012). Identifying the disadvantaged: Official poverty, consumption poverty, and the new supplemental poverty measure. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(3), 111-135.
Discuss the issues related to the measurement of the level and distribution of household income and related attributes. Discuss why household sector is important.
Week 5: 10 September 2018
Measuring Social and Demographic Change
How do we measure social and demographic changes will be discussed and their implications for public policy will be assessed.
- MacDonald, H. & Peters, A. (2011). Urban Policy and the Census. ESRI publishing.
- United Nations Statistics Division. (2005). Principles and methods of Population and Housing Census. United Nations Publications.
- United Nations Statistics Division. (2010). The World's Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. Series K. No.19. United Nations Publications.
Discuss the use of censuses and surveys in measuring social change and their relative merits.
Week 6: 17 September 2018
Measuring Global Development Goals: From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals
Discuss the measurement challenges of designing and evolving a global development agenda by the United Nations and implications for national policy formulation. The new Sustainable Development Goals will be adopted in September 2015 by world leaders in a special session of the General Assembly.
- Sachs, J. D. (2012). From millennium development goals to sustainable development goals. The Lancet, 379(9832), 2206-2211.
- Sachs, J. D. (2013). High stakes at the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals. The Lancet, 382(9897), 1001-1002.
- Loewe, M. (2012). Post 2015: how to reconcile the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?. German Development Institute.
- Egelston, A. E. (2013). Sustainable Development: A History. Springer Netherlands.
- OECD (2012). How’s Life? Measuring Well-being. OECD Publishing
Discuss the latest efforts of the United Nations to shape a global development agenda. Examine the measurement issues of various development indicators.
Week 7: 1 October 2018
Quality, Ethics and Errors in Official Statistics: Implications for Public Policy
Examine the performance of official statistics in various global economic crises and how official statistics deal with the issues of errors, quality and ethical standards.
- Seltzer, W. & Anderson, M. (2001). The dark side of numbers: The role of population data systems in human rights abuses. Social Research, 68(2), 481-513.
- Gutmann, M. P., Witkowski, K., Colyer, C., O'rourke, J. M., & Mcnally, J. (2008). Providing spatial data for secondary analysis: Issues and current practices relating to confidentiality. Population Research and Policy Review, 27(6), 639-665.
- Kaufman, C. E. & Ramarao, S. (2005). Community confidentiality, consent, and the individual research process: Implications for demographic research. Population Research and Policy Review, 24(2), 149-173.
Discuss how statistical errors may impact public policy and how this issue can be addressed.
Week 8: 8 October 2018
Data Revolution: Big Data and Public Policy
Discuss the emergence of ‘unstructured data’ as a new source of information for public policy, including its contributions and limitations.
- Mayer-Schonberger, Viktor; Cukier, Kenneth (2014). Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Eamon Dolan/Mariner Books.
- Misuraca, G., Mureddu, F., & Osimo, D. (2014). Policy-Making 2.0: Unleashing the Power of Big Data for Public Governance. In M. Gascó-Hernández (Ed.), Open Government (Vol. 4, pp. 171-188), Springer New York.
- McKinsey Global Institute, (2014). Global Flows in a Digital Age: How Trade, Finance, People, and Data Connect the World Economy. Available here: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/global-flows-in-a-digital-age
- Reimsbach-Kounatze, (2015). “The Proliferation of ‘Big Data’ and Implications for Official Statistics and Statistical Agencies: A Preliminary Analysis”, OECD Digital Economy Papers. Mo. 245, OECD Publishing, Paris.
Discuss the relevance of Big Data and other unstructured data for public policy formulation and monitoring. Discuss various examples nationally and globally.
Week 9: 15 October 2018
Location Information Platform and Geoinformation for Public Policy
The integration of geoinformation with other empirical evidence for public policy is gaining pace for locality development through the adoption of location information platforms.
- Thomas, C. & Sappington, N. (2009). GIS for decision support and public policy making. Redlands: ESRI Press.
- Cromley, E. K. & McLafferty, S. (2012). GIS and public health. Guilford Press.
- UK Office for National Statistics (2016) In Depth Review of Developing Geospatial Information Services based on Official Statistics, paper for Conference of European Statistician 27-29 April, 2016. ECE/CES/2016/7
Discuss the relevance of location information for policy formulation and monitoring. Examples will be drawn from around the world.
Week 10: 22 October 2018
Using Unstructured and Spatial Data for Policy Formulation
Discuss critically the use of Big Data and Geoinformation in the context of public policy with examples and applications, and the issues concerning confidentiality, privacy, and accuracy.
The issue of integration and accuracy of Big Data and Geoinformation will be discussed in the context of their applications.
Week 11: 29 October 2018
Measuring the Unmeasurable: New Data Challenges for Public Policy
Empirical data are being demanded for new policy issues which are not easy to measure such as national well-being and sustainable development, and this poses a big challenge to the information providers.
- Conceição, P., & Bandura, R. (2008). Measuring subjective wellbeing: A summary review of the literature. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Development Studies, Working Paper.
- Ahmad, N. (2013). Measuring Trade in Value Added, and Beyond. Paper presented at the Measuring the Effects of Globalization, Washington DC.
Discuss the demand for data and how such data can be effectively measured and delivered.
Week 12: 5 November 2018
The Future of Information in Public Policy: Towards a National Data Policy
Examine the impact of rapid information flow (including social media and real-time data) on the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of public policy, the need for a national data policy. The issues of data management, privacy and confidentiality and overall architecture of the National Information Architecture will be discussed.
- OMB Memorandum (M-13-13)Open Data Policy – Managing Information as an asset.
- OMB Memorandum (M-06-02)Improving Public Access to and Dissemination of Government Information.
Discuss the relevance of rapid information flow in public policy making and how information can be effectively used in policy making.
Week 13: 12 November 2018
Review of Salient Issues:
This session reviews all salient issues that have been discussed in this course. Feedbacks on the course assignments will be given. Key conclusions reached during the semester will be reviewed.
Requirements and Grading
Participation in discussion: 20%
Active class participation is expected and will be evaluated. It is important to prepare well for class, to raise pertinent issues, and to actively participate in class discussion.
Policy Brief: 30%
Recognising the importance of data and information, the governments around the world are evolving a national data policy, providing a framework to make data accessible and of the highest quality. You are asked by your government to draft a short policy paper as basis of discussion on some aspects of the national data policy. This short ‘policy paper’ for your government should not be more than 8 pages, and should focus on some important data policy issues.
Some possible topics you might consider for your Brief:
a) What recommendations would you make to address data gaps?
b) Do you recommend a national data policy for your country?
c) Which aspects of your country’s national statistical system should be modernized?
d) How would you advise on the collection, use, and dissemination of data in your country?
e) Should you country adopt an open-data policy?
Policy Paper: 50%
Select a substantive policy area of interest (such as health, ageing, urbanization, economic development) and develop a policy paper for your government to improve the information system for this area. Some of the areas your paper could focus on are: a) the availability and use of information in policy making, b) the challenges faced by the current data system, c) regulating the new information regime of the future, d) the future development of the statistical system. This is a think piece, and you have the opportunity to develop your ideas. There is no page requirement for this paper.