In the increasingly polarized political environment in the United States, it is hard to imagine policy-making becoming even more ideological and subjective. This is the main concern of two associate professors from Columbia University Emi Nakamura and Jon Steinsson and assistant professor Nicolas Vincent from HEC Montreal in a recent Bloomberg View op-ed.
Sparked by recent legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in early May, the trio outlines a dangerous trend of conservative governments all over the world (Argentina, Greece, and Canada) playing politics with data collection that serves as objective voice in policy-making. Most notably, Greece's misreporting of budget deficit statistics that resulted in an criminal investigation as the country faced total economic collapse.
According to the authors, "It’s hard to overstate how dangerous the destruction of
high-quality, objective statistical information would be." The three main statistical agencies in the United States - the Census Bureau, the Bureau of
Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics - "account
for less than 0.05 percent of President Barack Obama’s $3.7
trillion proposed budget."
This issue is being played out in the media as the budget deficit and economy is the main concern on the minds of voters heading into the upcoming national elections. Increasing awareness and educating the public about the importance of collecting reliable demographic data could swayvoters as they head to the polls this November.