Measuring the Progress of Societies: The Role of International Statistics and International Statisticians
Enrico Giovannini
President, National Institute of Statstics (Istat), Rome, Italy

Over the last few years, statisticians and economist have paid a lot of attention to the measurement of people's well-being and to the progress of societies. This growing movement has been fostered by the initiatives taken by some international organizations and national statistical offices. At the same time, other institutions expressed their concerns about the development of new measurement frameworks in the name of what they called “limits of official statistics”.

The paper presents a critical review of the last ten years of discussions among international and national statisticians on the measurement of well-being and related themes (sustainable development, human development, etc.) in order to draw some lessons on the way in which the community of official statisticians look at innovative proposals, especially when they relate to political processes.

Keywords: Official statistics; Well-being

Biography: President of Istat since August 4th, 2009. From January 2001 to July 2009, he was Chief Statistician of the OECD, where he launched the “Global Project on measuring the progress of societies”. He is Full Professor of Economic Statistics at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. He has authored several publications and has been a member of important national and international committees, such as the Stiglitz Commission. For his work on the measurement of social welfare, in 2010 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the President of the Republic by the Pio Manzù International Centre and became a member of the Club of Rome. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Human Development Report, of the Partnership Group of the European Statistical Committee and Chairman of the Board of the World Bank International Project for the measurement of purchasing power parity.