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Understanding through six projects

Our work is currently divided into six subprojects. Between them, they cover indicator politics inside and beyond the OECD world. They study how formulas are devised, how they are disseminated, and how they matter to politics and citizens. Here is an overview of the projects; for more information, just follow the links.

1. Comparing indicator evolution in five first-mover countries

This subproject investigates the evolution of macroeconomic indicators in France, Germany, the UK, the USA and the Netherlands. This comparison will reveal what drives the choice for particular indicators and the formulas behind them.
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2. Macroeconomic indicator harmonization in the EU

Over the past two decades, the EU has taken a leading role in harmonizing European measures for employment and public debt. The measurement choices that it made have had a material impact on member states - so what has motivated them?
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3. Top-down indicator harmonization around the world

International organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF have actively promoted the spread of official statistics and indicators to developing countries. Considering the controversies this has generated, this project asks: how have they done that, and why so?
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4. Indicators in China

China is the new powerhouse in the global economy, and has transformed its economy drastically over the past decades. How does it measure economic activity, and what explains the specific national approach?
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5. Public Debt Investors and Brazilian Macroeconomic Indicators

Public debt investors use a wide variety of macroeconomic indicators to evaluate where to invest the resources trusted on them. It is not clear, however, to what extent do they understand what is really measured by these macroeconomic indicators and how these indicators can impact investment decisions.
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6. The Shaky Foundations of International Statistics

Statistics don't only size up national economies, they also depict international economic flows. The IMF's Balance of Payments Manual - bedrock of global economic statistics - has often been amended and contested, however. What lies behind these developments?
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Future work

These projects are the current focus of the FickleFormulas team. In the coming years, we want to expand our work program. In particular, that will include a quantitative, large-n study across the OECD world to check whether the findings of the qualitative case studies hold more broadly. At the same time, we are always open to new ideas that would add to the FickleFormulas project. If you are interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to contact us.