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The Potential of Research: German Data Forum (RatSWD) supporting the advancement of modern Business Statistics

The German Data Forum (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, RatSWD) welcomes the recommendations from Federal and State governments to comprehensively digitalize and modernise economic and business statistics. This proposal promises new sources of statistics, such as retail scanner-data, as well as up-to-date price and sales statistics.  The recommendations are centred on a new base register, one that provides company master data on the most crucial statistics. This favourable and user-friendly data access would reduce the multitude of surveys, simplify economic statistics, and offer the full potential for research analysis.

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) welcomes the final report of the inter-ministerial, federal-state committee on the reduction of statistical obligations from 02.10.2019. The report addresses the most central requirements for modern and official economic statistics, with the German Data Forum (RatSWD) actively participated in and contributed to the committee’s hearing, offering its expertise to the report’s development. There is particular attention to the needs of empirical sciences for qualitative data, and the strengthening of innovative research approaches; therefore, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) is active in the political process of modernising registration methods- also a project of the current governmental coalition (see also the PR of the German Data Forum from 11 October 2019).

Of particular importance is the proposal of the working group to introduce a basic register of company master data. The multiple collections of company data for individual economic statistics can thus be avoided, and patterns of error reduced. Nevertheless, in order to achieve this and obtain a comprehensive statistical picture of all companies, individual companies, as well as other data sources, must be interconnected; the proposed register would provide the necessary uniform identifiers to do so.

According to the German Data Forum (RatSWD), digitization offers many new opportunities for both research and official statistics. More specifically, there is great potential for growth in research with the faster availability of up-to-date statistics. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) estimates that the working group’s proposal to create two new data collection methods, in the context of an amendment to the law, would be welcomed. Price and turnover statistics, obtained by using web scraping methods, as well as scanner data, would be made more efficient for retailers. Additionally, these new data sources would complement the existing survey methods qualitatively, and potentially enable the faster availability of current, quality-assured statistics.

In order to access their analytical potential, modernised economic statistics must be made accessible in the appropriate form (via the research data centres accredited by the German Data Forum), in order to be made accessible for independent research, while also respecting data protection requirements. Additionally, no added costs should be incurred for the scientific use.