Statistics and Data Directorate

Understanding Economic Statistics: an OECD perspective


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The aim of this book is to help the reader to better understand how to use economic statistics in general and OECD statistics in particular. It introduces the main concepts used by statisticians and economists to measure economic phenomena and provides tables and charts with relevant data. Moreover, the book describes how the production of international statistics is organised, who are the main data producers, what are the main databases available over the Internet and how can the quality of statistics be assessed.


Thanks to this book, the users will better understand where to find and how to use OECD statistics on gross domestic product, government’s public deficit and debt, short-term economic indicators, different sectors of economic activity, globalisation, innovation, labour market, etc.

Special attention is paid to indicators used to assess both macroeconomic and structural policies. In each section, references to sources and suggestions for further reading are provided.


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Foreword and Table of content

Chapter 1: The Demand for Economic Statistics

Chapter 2: Basic Concepts, Definitions and Classifications

Chapter 3: The Main Producers of Economic Statistics

Chapter 4: An Overview of OECD Economic Statistics

Chapter 5: Assessing the Quality of Economic Statistics


How to obtain this publication

The paper copy can be purchased via OECD Online Bookshop.


Related websites

OECD Berlin Centre:




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