14 November 2019
UNECE Guides Countries in Measuring Economic, Social Well-being
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The Guidelines aim to help NSOs decide whether and how to produce leading, composite and sentiment indicators.

Several SDG indicators are LCS indicators, including sentiment indicators on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (SDG indicator 2.1.2) and on perceived security (SDG indicator 16.1.4).

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) released guidance to help national statistical offices (NSOs) with the production of leading, composite and sentiment (LCS) indicators to better measure economic and social well-being and trends. The document provides a typology of indicators as well as country examples to inspire NSOs to develop and communicate LCS indicators.

According to the ‘Guidelines on producing leading, composite and sentiment indicators’ released on 7 November 2019, leading indicators are constructed based on one or several individual indicators that together have a leading property compared to a chosen reference series, such as gross domestic product (GDP).

The SDGs include several LCS indicators, including sentiment indicators on food insecurity and perceived security.

Composite indicators seek to measure multi-dimensional phenomena by combining individual indicators into a single measure using statistical methods. Sentiment indicators reflect the attitudes, perceptions or expectations of groups of respondents and tend to be based on qualitative surveys that ask opinions on past, present or future developments. The type of information collected through LCS indicators has not traditionally been covered by NSOs, but demand for them has increased in the last decade to support policymaking.

According to the Guidelines, some LCS indicators “will fully serve their purpose only once they are internationally comparable,” and such indicators will be useful in relation to the SDGs. Several SDG indicators, for example, are LCS indicators, including sentiment indicators on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (SDG indicator 2.1.2) and perceived security (SDG indicator 16.1.4).

UNECE’s guidance document provides a structured decision-making process based on the Principles of Official Statistics for NSOs to use when deciding whether to engage in producing LCS indicators. Key steps are: engaging with users and stakeholders; analyzing possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT); and considering the opportunities and challenges of LCS indicators. Strengths to consider include the advantages of NSOs compared to other organizations in producing LCS indicators, including statistical and methodological expertise, and general trust in NSOs as providers of high-quality and impartial statistics.  

In addition, the Guidelines share practical guidance on how to produce and communicate LCS indicators. They recommend incorporating communication at the beginning of the statistical production process to maximize user engagement and value and ensure that LCS indicator design best reflects user needs and expertise. The Guidance also addresses indicators’ relevance, accuracy and reliability, coherence and comparability, accessibility and clarity, and timeliness and punctuality.

An international Task Force established by the Conference of European Statistics (CES) in 2016 worked to develop the Guidelines. The Task Force includes representatives from Denmark, France, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, Eurostat, the UN Statistical Division and independent experts. The CES endorsed the Guidelines in June 2019. [UNECE Press Release] [Publication Webpage] [Publication: Guidelines on producing leading, composite and sentiment indicators

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