Towards a new growth strategy in Europe - Improved economic and social measurement, data and official statistics
Over the past decades, the insight has grown among national, European and international policymakers that policy action cannot be solely guided by reference to gross domestic product and its growth without integrating intangible investment, social and environmental dimensions, individual well-being and qualitative dimensions in the GDP. The changing characteristics of economies and societies in Europe require inclusion of multiple dimensions, including gender and age, new measurement and data for developing new policy for economic growth and well-being.
European growth prospects, job creation and well-being of citizens largely depend on economically successful innovations which address global and EU challenges and create new opportunities for firms. However, the importance of capital stock developments and investments, as well as labour skills, at a detailed industry level and for all types of tangible and intangible assets has not been fully integrated into the analysis of EU innovation and growth performances mainly due to data issues. Better measurement of tangible and intangible investments together with labour skills, in existing categories as well as inclusion of potentially relevant asset categories outside the current asset boundary (such as economic competences, organisational capital, co-creation, skills, marketing assets, firm specific human capital investments, culture and arts) – by taking gender and age into account - would improve the understanding about growth in knowledge-based, globalised and connected economies. Moreover, innovation driven growth strategies require a better understanding on the roles of services (including business services) and the use of ICT and internet at industry level. Equally vital for new growth strategies is a better understanding of the complementarities of firms' investments in global value added chains and the creation of new dynamic market industries.
Europe needs to understand and analyse the changing frame of references for the evaluation of the state and development of societies. Official statistics need to be modernised to provide a more complete picture through the incorporation of new metrics, based on new sources and data collection methods, in coherent frameworks delivering consistent evidences and narratives to policymakers. New sources (including social media) offer unparalleled opportunities to elicit information on welfare, wellbeing and societal progress by other means than traditional sample surveys and require the development of modern, innovative methods for official statistics. With all strata of the population being in scope, methodologically sound official statistics ensure that for e.g. a “silent majority” (those who do not tweet) or marginalised minorities (those who for e.g., lack bank accounts and credit cards and hence leave no trace in certain electronic systems) remain visible to policymakers when innovative, non-traditional sources are used to measure progress. The protection of individual data is furthermore a concern that should be taken into account.
a) Research and innovation actions
Research aims to improve the availability and quality in the data on tangible and intangible investments, capital stock and the composition of labour inputs at industry level and/or firm level which in longer perspective qualifies for the endorsement from official statistics.
Compilation of data on tangible and intangible investment categories within the existing asset boundary of the national accounts standards (SNA 2008/ESA 2010) need to be targeted and supplemented with national sources and other types of calculations. Creating new data for potentially relevant asset categories outside the current asset boundary at a detailed industry level need statistical work together with implementing strategies and novel approaches to minimise cost and burden of compiling. Piloting and proof of concepts can be useful. All efforts to improve data availability and quality need to be consistent with the current statistical classification of economic activities (NACE Rev.2), National Accounts concepts, methodologies and quality criteria. It is important to use internationally harmonized official source statistics. Future extensions of official statistics can benefit from the already existing work on tangible and intangible capital stocks and labour input outside the official statistical systems by improving their quality in line with statistical quality criteria. It is essential to work out a strategy in which the statistical community cooperates with the economic and other social sciences communities to integrate the improved and/or newly created data into established official statistics to guarantee their lasting reproducibility.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
b) Coordination and Support Action
The coordination and support action should focus on the incorporation and alignment of new, possibly unofficial and unstructured, sources with established official statistics. It should build on the rich body of results in the alternative growth approaches, social, environmental and sustainable indicators, new consumption models and “Beyond GDP” domain – in consistency with National Accounts - covering both novel domains and non-traditional sources as well as innovative data collection approaches. It should incorporate a strong statistical methodological component focusing on obtaining consistency, representativity/social inclusion (in particular when innovative data collection methods are used) and measures of uncertainty. Piloting and proof of concept should be at the forefront. Disaggregation of statistics - geographically, or by other domains (e.g. identifying vulnerable population groups) - to provide greater insights and providing evidence allowing more focused policy decisions should be covered, as should metadata and other aspects of quality of statistics. At the same time data protection concerns should be addressed.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Better data and official statistics should improve our understanding about the changing nature of overall investment and growth dynamism in Europe. Widening of the concept of investment should bring insights for the European growth strategy and reveal cross-country differences in growth and productivity performances taking into account the role of tangible and intangible capital in the modernisation and competitiveness of EU industries and services. Moreover, through the investigation of the practical applicability of new sources, frameworks and methods for official statistics across a wide range of aspects regarding social and sustainable progress will provide a coherent framework of reliable evidence to the benefit of society. Public statistics and measurements being more explorative and future-orientated should provide new innovative policy support frameworks in "Beyond GDP" perspective.