Greek Statistics – A marriage of an illusion to a futility


Today’s topic is about money, tax measures, calculations and statistics. The leader of the Greek opposition party gave a speech  in Salonica (Thessalonica)  a months ago about the economic pledges of his party which Syriza has calculated at about 11 billions euros.  Immediately the government replied that these measures would cost 18 billion euros – a 7 billion euro difference so who is giving us the “real” story? . Every new government in Greece says that the previous numbers produced by the previous government are “lies” and the situation is even “more difficult” than is anticipated. This is one indication of how we handle or mishandle statistics.

All statisticians know that there are lies, big lies and statistics. However statistics married with the Greek politicians is a fatal mistake. It is not just miscalculation and wrong statistics and not “just a story”. A story usually has some sensible and logical assumptions and an achievable end result. Greek government statistics are always a science fiction genre.  Greek government statistics is a paradox. Like a white house coloured black. Like mother Teresa married to Putin. It is a marriage of an illusion to futility.

It is the right time to stop this situation and come up with solutions. As a member of the Greek Statistical Society I propose the establishment of a truly independent organization that would do just one thing

It would be responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at a national level so there will not be any dispute. This Statistics Authority would be an independent body, directly accountable to the Parliament.

What is so different from today’s Greek statistical authority?

If there is a change in how the work is done, the only words that will remain untouched are “statistical authority”. The existing statistical authority is so corrupt and dependent on the Greek government that their statistical figures are not even worth to be printed on paper.

Why will the proposed statistical authority be more reliable ?

  1. The head of this authority should be a person of foreign nationality with an international career and leader in at least one of the international statistical associations.
  2. This authority should not be funded by the Greek government but by the European Union.
  3. It should be overseen by Eurostat.
  4. The authority will provide online and make available to anyone all related summarized and anonymized  datasets so that anybody can run the models,numbers ,calculations and statistics again.

We are sure that this will be a final solution to this ongoing local problem.

* Καταναλώστε Yπεύθυνα – my most recent talk given this month at HAU Toastmasters.