GIGA Hamburg: Indicators in the Social Sciences – Numbers may speak louder than words

Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)

Lecturer: Dr. Michaela Saisana, EC-JRC

Schedule: 05.-06.11.2015

Place: GIGA, Neuer Jungfernstieg 21, 20534 Hamburg, Germany

Registration: Online via the GIGA website

Course description:

Topics such as welfare, sustainable development, good governance, innovation, culture and creativity, are so versatile that they cannot be captured by a single (existing) variable alone. This is why we need summary measures to make sense of the complexity around us. Yet, there is a polarized audience when it comes to performance indices. On one side enthusiastic supporters, mostly from advocacy groups developing their own indices to advance a cause; on the other skeptical economists and official statisticians concerned by the subjective nature of the variables’ and weights’ selection and aggregation procedure. This course touches upon the composite indicators’ turbulent growth over the last years in the international arena and within the European Commission, where they are used to help shape EU policies and monitor progress in areas such as financial risk, consumers and markets, innovation, environmental pressure and rule of law just to name a few. We offer principles of good practice, established between the JRC and the OECD already in 2008 and continuously refined since then. We shall also discuss surprising examples of how things can often go wrong and unnoticed with adverse consequences on the policy implications of the measures.

About the lecturer
Dr. Michaela Saisana works at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission where she leads the Composite Indicators Research Group (COIN). The group works on multidimensional measures related to social, economic, health and environmental issues in support to the policy directorates of the European Commission. Ms. Saisana has a PhD and an MSc in Chemical Engineering. She has offered lectures at international conferences and workshops, and has organized all twelve annual JRC trainings on composite indicators and multicriteria analysis.

Further information