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Statistical and Data Literacy in Policy-Making


isi Virtual 2021

Set your time machine for August 2019. The last World Statistics Congress was coming to a close and an invitation was issued for the WSC 2021.

Statistics and data are a ‘vector of acting by knowing‘. They manifest approximations to social reality that have become instruments of collective political action. The connection between statistics and politics materializes essential features of ‘governing by knowing’. In this understanding, statistics and data have fundamental knowledge and governance effects within the policy process.

The metamorphosis of statistics and data into policy tools affects the work of data providers. The use of data in policy-making is subject to the principles of legitimacy, transparency and accountability, but also of preference-building and negotiation. Data become subject to public discourse, scrutiny and contestation that target the narratives and power structures that emerge from and result in their production and use. The use of data consequently fosters participatory structures and epistemic communities that perceive their evidence as an opportunity for defining policies.

In this way, statistics become part of the knowledge and evidence production that supports deliberation in evidence-informed policy processes.

As a result, the use of data in policy-making becomes open to multiple, strategic and value-based considerations that support interests of central knowledge and data producers and users.

These developments impact on and are impacted by political actors and their capacity to select, evaluate and process data. Understanding statistics, working with data, analyzing and arguing through data have become essential challenges for professionals working in public policy analysis, policy-making, evaluation and scrutiny. Parallel to this development, the landscape of statistical and data sources as well as the ways of using them in policy-making have grown significantly and became easily confusing for any non-data scientist engaged in public policy.


ISLP — Home

The International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP) is a project initiated by the International Association for Statistical Education➶ (IASE), which is the education section of the International Statistical Institute➶ (ISI).

During our Invited Paper Session at the 63rd ISI World Statistics Congress 2021 we will discuss these and other issues related to statistical and data literacy, e.g. the development of a Data Literacy Framework. It is part of the International Statistical Literacy Project’s (ISLP’s) new Working Group (WG) on ‘Statistical and Data Literacy in Policy-Making’ and co-organized with the ISLP.

I am delighted and honored to be one of the invited speakers, together with such great researchers as Gaby Umbach (European University Institute), Walter J. Radermacher (President FENStatS), Milo Schield (Augsburg University, Professor of Business Administration), and Giulio Sabbati (European Parliament, DG Parliamentary Research Services).

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