IMF Executive Board Discusses Measuring the Digital Economy

April 5, 2018

On March 28, 2018, the IMF Executive Board discussed the staff paper on Measuring the Digital Economy. The paper assesses the current state of play in measurement of the digital sector in macroeconomic and financial statistics, recommending steps to overcome the measurement challenges posed by digitalization. It focuses on a digital sector comprising the producers at the core of digitalization: online platforms, platform-enabled services, and suppliers of Information and Communications Technology goods and services. 

“The paper proposes a perimeter for the digital sector, distinguishing it from the broader digital economy” said Gabriel Quirós, Deputy Director of the IMF Statistics Department. “Subsequently, it discusses the inter-related core aspects of GDP, welfare, globalization, and productivity and analyzes the challenges in measuring the economic and financial activity related to the digital sector by systematically reviewing the state of play of statistics on prices, national accounts, external sector, and monetary and financial developments.”
Improving statistics agencies’ access to administrative data and “Big Data” can help overcome the measurement challenges posed by digitalization. For administrative data – data collected by or available in government agencies as an integral part of their regular activities - this entails cooperation of national government agencies, while in the case of Big Data, the cooperation should extend to partnerships between the private and the public sectors, including international organizations.
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