The existing infrastructure for the production of key economic statistics relies heavily on data collected through sample surveys and periodic censuses, together with administrative records generated in connection with tax administration. The increasing difficulty of obtaining survey and census responses threatens the viability of existing data collection approaches. The growing availability of new sources of Big Data—such as scanner data on purchases, credit card transaction records, payroll information, and prices of various goods scraped from the websites of online sellers—has changed the data landscape. These new sources of data hold the promise of allowing the statistical agencies to produce more accurate, more disaggregated, and more timely economic data to meet the needs of policymakers and other data users. This volume documents progress made toward that goal and the challenges to be overcome to realize the full potential of Big Data in the production of economic statistics. It describes the deployment of Big Data to solve both existing and novel challenges in economic measurement, and it will be of interest to statistical agency staff, academic researchers, and serious users of economic statistics.
Charles R. Hulten is professor of economics at the University of Maryland. He has been a senior research associate at the Urban Institute and is chair of the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Michael Harper is chief of the Division of Productivity Research at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Edwin R. Dean, formerly associate commissioner for Productivity and Technology at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is adjunct professor of economics at The George Washington University.
This volume takes aim at that problem, while taking stock of where we are in our attempts to solve it. Much of this analysis focuses on the capacity to measure the value of technological change and other health care innovations. A key finding suggests that growth in health care spending has coincided with an increase in products and services that together reduce mortality rates and promote additional health gains. Concerns over the apparent increase in unit prices of medical care may thus understate positive impacts on consumer welfare. When appropriately adjusted for such quality improvements, health care prices may actually have fallen. Provocative and compelling, this volume not only clarifies one of the more nebulous issues in health care analysis, but in so doing addresses an area of pressing public policy concern.
Half of the papers focus on prices for mainframe and personal computers, semiconductors, and other high-tech products, using mainly hedonic techniques. The volume includes a panel discussion by distinguished economists about the theoretical and practical considerations of how best to measure price change of capital goods whose quality is changing rapidly. The authors also present new research on more conventional but still unsettled problems in the price field affecting both the consumer and producer price indexes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This volume contains papers presented at a conference in May 1988 in Washington, D.C., commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth (CRIW). The call for papers emphasized assessments of broad topics in economic measurement, both conceptual and pragmatic. The organizers desired (and succeeded in obtaining) a mix of papers that, first, illustrate the range of measurement issues that economics as a science must confront and, second, mark major milestones of CRIW accomplishment. The papers concern prices and output (Griliches, Pieper, Triplett) and also the major productive inputs, capital (Hulten) and labor (Hamermesh). Measures of saving, the source of capital accumulation, are covered in one paper (Boskin); measuring productivity, the source of much of the growth in per capita income, is reviewed in another (Jorgenson). The use of economic data in economic policy analysis and in regulation are illustrated in a review of measures of tax burden (Atrostic and Nunns) and in an analysis of the data needed for environmental regulation (Russell and Smith); the adequacy of data for policy analysis is evaluated in a roundtable discussion (chapter 12) involving four distinguished policy analysts with extensive government experience in Washington and Ottawa.
Questioning the quality of current data and analytical procedures, this ambitious volume proposes innovative research designs and methods for data enhancement, and offers new data on trade prices and service transactions for future studies. Leading researchers address the measurement of international trade flows and prices, including the debate over measurement of computer prices and national productivity; compare international levels of manufacturing output; and assess the extent to which the United States has fallen into debt to the rest of the world.
In Measuring Capital in the New Economy, Carol Corrado, John Haltiwanger, Daniel Sichel, and a host of distinguished collaborators offer new approaches for measuring capital in an economy that is increasingly dominated by high-technology capital and intangible assets. As the contributors show, high-tech capital and intangible assets affect the economy in ways that are notoriously difficult to appraise. In this detailed and thorough analysis of the problem and its solutions, the contributors study the nature of these relationships and provide guidance as to what factors should be included in calculations of different types of capital for economists, policymakers, and the financial and accounting communities alike.
As the structure of the economy has changed over the past few decades, researchers and policy makers have been increasingly concerned with how these changes affect workers. In this book, leading economists examine a variety of important trends in the new economy, including inequality of earnings and other forms of compensation, job security, employer reliance on temporary and contract workers, hours of work, and workplace safety and health.
In order to better understand these vital issues, scholars must be able to accurately measure labor market activity. Thus, Labor in the New Economy also addresses a host of measurement issues: from the treatment of outliers, imputation methods, and weighting in the context of specific surveys to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of data from different sources. At a time when employment is a central concern for individuals, businesses, and the government, this volume provides important insight into the recent past and will be a useful tool for researchers in the future.
The latest in the NBER’s influential Studies in Income and Wealth series, which has played a key role in the development of national account statistics in the United States and other nations, this volume explores collaborative solutions between academics, policy researchers, and official statisticians to some of today’s most important economic measurement challenges. Contributors to this volume extend past research on the integration and extension of national accounts to establish an even more comprehensive understanding of the distribution of economic growth and its impact on well-being, including health, human capital, and the environment. The research contributions assess, among other topics, specific conceptual and empirical proposals for extending national accounts.
Measuring Wealth and Financial Intermediation and Their Links to the Real Economy identifies measurement problems associated with the financial crisis and improvements in measurement that may prevent future crises, taking account of the dynamism of the financial marketplace in which measures that once worked well become misleading. In addition to advances in measuring financial activity, the contributors also investigate the effects of the crisis on households and nonfinancial businesses. They show that households’ experiences varied greatly and some even experienced gains in wealth, while nonfinancial businesses’ lack of access to credit in the recession may have been a more important factor than the effects of policies stimulating demand.
Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures begins with a comprehensive review of current methodologies for collecting consumer expenditure data. Subsequent chapters highlight the range of different objectives that expenditure surveys may satisfy, compare the data available from consumer expenditure surveys with that available from other sources, and describe how the United States’s current survey practices compare with those in other nations.
Measuring Entrepreneurial Businesses brings together economists and data analysts to discuss the most recent research covering three broad themes. The first chapters isolate high- and low-performing entrepreneurial ventures and analyze their roles in creating jobs and driving innovation and productivity. The next chapters turn the focus on specific challenges entrepreneurs face and how they have varied over time, including over business cycles. The final chapters explore core measurement issues, with a focus on new data projects under development that may improve our understanding of this dynamic part of the economy.
The research in Measuring and Modeling Health Care Costs seeks to connect our knowledge of expenditures with what we are able to measure of results, probing questions of methodology, changes in the pharmaceutical industry, and the shifting landscape of physician practice. The research in this volume investigates, for example, obesity’s effect on health care spending, the effect of generic pharmaceutical releases on the market, and the disparity between disease-based and population-based spending measures. This vast and varied volume applies a range of economic tools to the analysis of health care and health outcomes.
Practical and descriptive, this new volume in the Studies in Income and Wealth series is full of insights relevant to health policy students and specialists alike.
Education, Skills, and Technical Change explores various facets of these questions and provides an overview of educational attainment in the United States and the channels through which labor force skills and education affect GDP growth. Contributors to this volume focus on a range of educational and training institutions and bring new data to bear on how we understand the role of college and vocational education and the size and nature of the skills gap. This work links a range of research areas—such as growth accounting, skill development, higher education, and immigration—and also examines how well students are being prepared for the current and future world of work.
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