Trying to Assess the Quality of Macroeconomic Data - The Case of Swiss Labour Productivity Growth as an Example

KOF Working Paper No. 173

28 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2007

See all articles by Jochen Hartwig

Jochen Hartwig

ETH Zurich - Swiss Economic Institute

Date Written: September 2007

Abstract

Macroeconomic data are indispensable for modern governance, yet it is often unclear how reliable these data are. The production process of macroeconomic data inside the statistical offices is often not very transparent for the general public. Bystanders usually have no choice but to take for granted the published data because criteria by which to judge data quality are wanting. Hoping to contribute to a better understanding of the quality of macroeconomic data, this paper proposes several plausibility checks and applies them to recently published Swiss labour productivity growth figures. Although the proposed checks cannot 'prove' or 'disprove' the official data, they are capable of either strengthening our confidence in the official data or, alternatively, of casting them into doubt. Policy debates drawing on official data will hardly be able to ignore differences in the degree of confidence with which these data are held to be accurate.

Keywords: Accuracy of macroeconomic observations, statistical artefacts, labour productivity

JEL Classification: C82, O47

Suggested Citation

Hartwig, Jochen, Trying to Assess the Quality of Macroeconomic Data - The Case of Swiss Labour Productivity Growth as an Example (September 2007). KOF Working Paper No. 173, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1012312 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1012312

Jochen Hartwig (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich - Swiss Economic Institute ( email )

CH-8092 Zurich
Switzerland

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