The Bean Review has highlighted the significant challenges and opportunities that the ONS and wider economic statistics community face in light of rapidly changing technologies, which raise a host of conceptual issues around measuring economic activity and which are revolutionising the ways in which economic statistics can be compiled. ESCoE’s aim is to deliver research that enables ONS to meet its vision of delivering world-class economic statistics in this environment. Our research programme will provide cutting-edge research against agreed priorities, supporting the transformation programme ONS has put in place. In particular, dictating the research programme and delivery, are the needs for research that will allow ONS to exert greater influence over the direction of travel of the international standard-setting agenda and that will meet user demands. These considerations influence ESCoE’s research programme and the research team and networks established with the ESCoE. The research programme is delivered via three mechanisms: the core research programme, ad-hoc project support to ONS, and additional contractual research to augment and reinforce the core mission of the ESCoE.

The core research programme for the period to end 2018-19 is currently organised in thirteen projects under three broad work streams: National Accounts and Beyond GDP, Productivity and the Modern economy, Regional and Labour Market statistics. Each of the thirteen projects is headed by senior academics, tasked with ensuring that the research is carried out to world-class standards and helping to re-establish statistical enquiry as an important research topic in economics. All of our projects use advanced tools from economic theory, econometrics, mathematics and statistics to explore novel uses of data and take forward the development of economic statistics.

We also illustrate below our projects against the themes of the ONS Economic Statistics and Analysis Strategy (ESAS). Most projects cover several of the ten themes listed in the ESAS, which are interdependent and overlapping. Our core research programme is thus broad in scope and includes research under each ESAS theme addressing many of the detailed priorities listed there. We envisage that some of these priorities will be supported by ESCoE through ad-hoc project support to ONS.

ESCoE Work Stream and Project Number
National Accounts

& Beyond GDP


& the Modern Economy


& Labour Market Statistics

ESAS Theme 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4
Measurement of the National Accounts  x  x  x  x  x  x
Measurement of trade and international statistics  x  x
Measurement of services sector activities  x x x  x  x
Measurement of devolved, regional, and local statistics  x  x  x  x
Measurement of the labour market  x  x
Measurement of prices  x x  x  x  x x
Measuring the modern economy – the digital revolution  x  x  x  x
Beyond GDP – broader measures of welfare and activity  x  x  x
Exploitation, interrogation and understanding of administrative data and other large datasets  x  x  x  x  x  x
Understanding the productivity puzzle  x  x  x  x

ESCoE’s research programme also offers research in areas that are not detailed in the ESAS, but which clearly sit very well within the overarching vision of economic statistics transformation and the objectives of the ESAS. For example, our programme includes work on international migration statistics (project 3.1) and indicators of economic uncertainty (project 2.5), which are in high demand by users of UK economic statistics at this time. And our research programme includes work on better communicating to users and commentators the uncertainty and limitations around economic statistics (project 1.4), in direct response to recommendations in the Bean Review.

The core research programme will provide ONS with research that addresses established statistical limitations, such as the absence of double deflated volumes measures of GDP (project 2.3), inadequate measurement of the service sector (projects 2.1, 2.2 and 2.4) and regional statistics (projects 3.1, 3.3 and 3.4), as well as the need for longer runs of data (project 1.1). Further, the research programme will evaluate the quantitative implications for measurement of economic activity associated with the modern and digital economy, including e.g. evaluation of methods for gauging the magnitude of intangible investment (project 2.2), re-developing the multi-factor productivity methodology to better accommodate new inputs (project 2.3), exploring how new digital business models map into existing statistics (project 2.2), and understanding the impact of global supply chains on trade and GDP statistics (project 2.4).

Our research programme explores new methods for collating and improving economic statistics from existing data sources, making better use of administrative data, other microdata and data from a range of sources to produce better regional (projects 3.1, 3.3 and 3.4) and labour market statistics (projects 3.1 and 3.2), more timely and accurate measures of National Accounts aggregates (project 1.2), and new aggregate indicators of welfare (project 1.3). We explore the possibilities for using novel data sources to inform the development of economic statistics, including occupational and service sector classifications (projects 2.2 and 3.2) and measures of intra UK trade (project 3.4), and further develop and analyse business microdata to better understand the productivity puzzle, investment and innovation patterns (project 2.5).