Statistical information is an essential element for development; it contributes directly to capacity building and the modernization of public administration. Official statistics are a necessary input to facilitate better planning, monitoring and evaluation of public policies as well as to promote better accountability to citizens in the context of results-based management. Similarly, statistics are essential to support academic research and to sustain decisions of the private sector and society in general.
A lot of effort has been put into defining statistical capacity, and into measuring it. However, not much has been done to identify the contextual elements that affect a country’s statistical capacity. That is, borrowing from the literature on the capacity of the State, the elements of the political economy that have an effect on the development of a country’s statistical capacity.
In general, the incentives to strengthen statistical capacity are not always aligned within governments. That is, there are trade-offs that affect the development of statistical policy: on the one hand, governments need data to make better decisions; and on the other, these same data can support citizens as they demand accountability for the decisions of their governments, which can consequently go against the interests of the latter. In this context, more knowledge is needed to understand why governments would be interested in strengthening their statistical capacity embodied in their National Statistical Offices (NSOs).
The focus of this session will be to explore the dynamics and incidence of political economy factors on the technical and institutional capacity of NSOs. Looking for answers to the following questions: What are the determining political economy factors that condition statistical capacity in a country? Why do some countries have greater statistical capacity than others do? To this end, the Interamerican Development Bank´s research provides a conceptual framework that contextualizes the importance of statistical institutional strengthening within the policy formation process, especially in terms of the state’s capacity, as well as to propose theoretical and methodological frameworks to analyze the effects of political economy factors on statistical institutionality.