Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.3, 1999. pp. 373393

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Towards Systems of Social Statistics - Some Principles and Their Application in Statistics Canada

The main proposition of the article is that the further development of social statistics should be based on a careful review of the fundamental needs of social policy. In turn, these needs should be based on the character of social programs. They are: outcome oriented; should be based on an understanding of causal relationships; involve long lead times between causes and effects; are sectoral; most often focus on distributional issues; involve more than government. The article then explores the implications of these features of social policy for the design of supporting data systems. It emphasizes the need for conceptual frameworks, feeder data systems including traditional cross-sectional surveys as well as hybrid data systems, longitudinal surveys, the importance of clean micro data bases, and microsimulation modelling. It also outlines an implementation strategy which stresses collaboration among government statisticians, departmental policy analysts, and academic personnel.

Social policy; conceptual frameworks; data systems; longitudinal surveys; micro data bases; microsimulation modelling.

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