New IDB study presents recommendations to strengthen statistical capacity, based on the experiences of 10 countries in Latin America
Statistics are an essential input for decision making and the design of good public policies. For that reason, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean should invest in the strengthening of their National Statistics Offices (NSO), according to a new study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The IDB study, Who wants to know? The political economy of statistical capacity in Latin America, recommends to strengthen statistical capacity based on case studies carried out in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic, which have been carried out in accordance with a new theoretical and methodological framework with a comprehensive and comparative perspective.
In the region, the level of technical and institutional capacity as well as their development trajectory are heterogeneous among these institutions. This is due, in part, to the general degree of development of each country and its governmental institutions, but also to the particularities of the political economy of each country that help explain these differences and fluctuations.
The study highlights the importance of the demand for statistical information as a source of strength for the NSO. Therefore, it recommends that in addition to developing a closer link with state actors, the NSOs invest in creating working ties with civil society organizations, economic agents and the press to help build a critical mass of users that serves as an informal barrier that guarantees the continuity of statistical capacity. This will contribute to maintaining levels of transparency and quality that avoid excessive politicization of statistics and the potential weakening of NSOs.
It also highlights that the opportunities offered by international actors to strengthen statistical capacities should be seized, not only because of their role as users of information, but also because of the crucial role of international, bilateral or multilateral cooperation in strengthening the sector in the countries to provide resources and knowledge to NSO.
The study proposes to promote the strengthening of the statistical sector in the countries of the region. In this regard, it highlights the importance of institutional reforms that allow the modernization of the legal frameworks that govern NSOs in aspects such as autonomy, transparency and coordination, and other reforms that strengthen statistical systems with resources and personnel, keeping in mind the challenges of technology and innovation for the future.
The success of the 2020 round of censuses in Latin America and the Caribbean will depend, to a large extent, on the capacity of NSOs to produce reliable and quality data to design good public policies.
About the IDB
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.
José Antonio Mejia-Guerra
IDB Modernization of the State Lead Specialist