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China’s Statistical System: Three Decades of Change and Transformation traces the remarkable changes that have modernized the nature of official statistics. These changes were ushered in by the economic and social reforms launched in the late 1970s that led to the gradual replacement of a centrally planned economy with the emergence of a market economy. The reforms generated demand for new data, the replacement of Marxist-Leninist based frameworks with the market related concepts, adoption of sampling methods in place of complete enumeration, and greater data transparency. These reforms have brought China’s statistical system closer to those of the market economies. However, the reforms have not completely harmonized China’s statistics with those of other countries; concepts and standards differ; coverage deficiencies exist; and many series are based on reporting systems that are open to bureaucratic manipulation. This book begins with a historical review of the changes that have taken place. It then proceeds to apply internationally accepted norms to evaluate the organizational and institutional strengths and weaknesses of the system. The evaluation also encompasses issues pertaining to adherence to international standards and best practice, data quality, credibility, transparency and accessibility. The assessment forms the basis for formulation of a comprehensive set of reform proposals, which if systematically implemented, would permit China to develop a robust and sustainable statistical system capable of serving the information needs of China’s policy makers, its private sector, its citizens and the global community at large. The reform agenda embraces proposals for institutional and organizational restructuring, the adoption of a streamlined core data development program, investments in statistical infrastructure and human capital, harnessing information technology and adoption of a more dynamic set of policies to serve clients. For the emergence of a vastly strengthened statistical system, China will need a better coordinated system in which there is greater data sharing between components parts of the system.

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