Where to Find Research on National Statistics

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One of the themes of this blog is improving the national statistics through research on measurement issues. Like other kinds of research, you’ll find it presented at conferences and ultimately published in working papers, journals, and books. While you may occasionally find research on national statistics in any journal or conference in the fields of statistics, economics, or the other social sciences, a few organizations focus on measurement issues.

The following is a list some of the prominent associations and organizations that promote research on statistical measurement in the context of national statistics. It’s not comprehensive—for example, I cover organizations that are active in the United States or internationally, but I’m probably missing some regional or national organizations in other countries. And this list doesn’t include the statistical agencies themselves or intergovernmental organizations like the UN or OECD. You’re welcome to use the comments to mention any omissions.

Conference on Research in Income and Wealth. CRIW was founded in 1936, making it one of the oldest of these organizations. In its early years, it helped sort out the conceptual framework for national accounts, and it continues to focus primarily on macroeconomic statistics related to business cycles, saving and investment, and productivity. The organization is administered by the National Bureau of Economic Research, but membership is independent of NBER affiliation and includes statistical agency staff. CRIW holds conferences roughly once a year, with the papers published by the University of Chicago Press, and holds workshops each summer. Its conferences and workshops take place in North America and participants have mostly been North American, though recent conferences have tried to reach a world-wide audience.

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m co-organizing an upcoming CRIW conference on globalization challenges in the measurement of national accounts. The deadline for the call for papers is March 1, so if you’re doing research in this area, please submit an abstract.

Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology. FCSM is a U.S. interagency committee created by OMB, which advises OMB on statistical methodologies. Each year, usually in December, it organizes either a “research conference” or a “statistical policy seminar,” where research is presented on new developments in data collection or estimation. These events are hosted by the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, or COPAFS, which is an organization representing more than 40 professional organizations or research institutions that are primary private-sector users of federal statistics.

International Association for Official Statistics. IAOS was founded in 1985 as a specialized section of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), with the goals of promoting understanding and advancement of official statistics and fostering the development of official statistics in developing countries. IAOS participates every two years in the ISI’s “World Statistical Congress,” and in alternating years usually holds a separate IAOS topical conference. It sponsors a research journal, the Statistical Journal of the IAOS.

International Association for Research in Income and Wealth. IARIW was organized in 1947 and focuses on national income accounting, distribution of income and wealth and measurement of poverty, systems of social accounting, and international comparisons. IARIW holds a general conference every two years, generally in August, as well as special topical conferences, with conferences held in locations throughout the world. IARIW also sponsors a quarterly research journal, the Review of Income and Wealth.

Society for Economic Measurement. SEM held its first conference in 2014, so it’s the newest of these associations. Its scope is a little broader than the others, in that it focuses on economic measurement in general, rather than specifically on national statistics. It holds annual conferences, usually in July, and held its first three conferences in Chicago, Paris, and Thesaloniki, Greece.

Other Organizations. In addition to these organizations that focus primarily on measurement, there are many organizations that give special attention to national statistics. For example, the American Statistical Association has a Government Statistics Section; also, several other sections, such as Survey Research Methods and Business and Economic Statistics, are involved in research on national statistics.

The American Economic Association has a Committee on Economic Statistics that promotes the involvement of economists in the production and analysis of economic statistics. Among other activities, it sponsors about three sessions on measurement at each year’s AEA conference. The National Association for Business Economics also has a statistics committee, and each July it holds an economic measurement seminar, which helps business economists understand the national statistics.

Professional associations that are located in Washington DC, such as the Washington Statistical Society and the Society of Government Economists, frequently provide research seminars on federal statistics.

Research institutes, such as the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute also occasionally present seminars on national statistics—on March 2 they are teaming up to present a policy forum on the role of government statistics. In particular, the semiannual Brookings Papers on Economic Activity often include at least one paper on economic measurement.

The NBER, founded in 1920, now conducts and disseminates research on a large variety of topics, but in its early years it very much had a focus on economic statistics for measuring business cycles. It continues to support research on economic measurement.


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