Implications of Covid-19 for official statistics: a central banking perspective

IFC Working Papers  |  No 20  | 
20 November 2020


The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on official statistics has been a particularly relevant issue for central banks, as both producers and users of data. As producers, they have been confronted with statistical data gaps that arose and also involved in methodological interventions to address the related challenges. As users of statistics, they needed information to pursue their monetary and financial stability policy objectives in the face of the sharp disruptions caused by the pandemic. The experience of statisticians in various central banks weathering this storm highlighted three main lessons. A first, somewhat reassuring one is the importance of the international efforts made since the 2007-09 Great Financial Crisis to build better-quality, more comprehensive, flexible and integrated statistics. A second lesson is that, despite recent progress, many data gaps remain that have been exacerbated by the crisis. Thirdly, the pandemic also underscored the need to go beyond the "standard" offering of official statistics especially in crisis times. A key requirement is to have more timely, frequent and well-documented indicators to guide policy. Addressing these needs calls for fully exploiting the data sources available, promoting greater data sharing among official statistics producers as well as considering alternative, "big data" sources as a complement to official statistics.