Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Industrialisation in official statistics: a view on quality reporting and sufficient quality

Booleman, Max and Zeelenberg, Kees (2013): Industrialisation in official statistics: a view on quality reporting and sufficient quality. Published in: Proceedings of NTTS 2013 (New Techniques and Technologies for Statistics conference) , Vol. 2013, (2013): pp. 184-191.


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We don't make them like that anymore, and it's a good job too! Industrialisation and standardization lead to constant product quality in time. In official statistics, just as in car manufacturing, intermediate statistical products and final statistical products should have a constant quality level according the pre-set specifications. These specifications include the quality level and their allowed tolerances. This way individual quality reporting is not needed anymore because every product is according the specifications. The required quality level depends on the intended use. Based on ideas of the accountancy world about sufficient quality we could say:

The quality of statistical information is insufficient if a better figure resulted into another decision.

If there is a need to improve quality we should make a distinction between process and product quality. Improving product quality during a production cycle is only allowed if they do not meet yet the pre-set specifications. Improving process quality should lead to more efficiency and more robust product quality. Changing product specifications, including the pre-set quality level, leads to product and process redesign and to explicit communication with users. The producer of statistical information informs the users about the intended use. The quality level is sufficient for this intended use. Actual use is monitored to avoid mis-use.

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