Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Sabino Cassese
Chapter 16: Global indicators
In recent years, global indicators have come to the fore in a variety of fields. Today, a plethora of global indicators are published by many international, hybrid and non-governmental organizations, national agencies, advocacy groups, scientists’ networks and interested individuals on issues as diverse as child health, quality of education, water sanitation, the ease of starting a business, countries’ democratic fragility and rates of corruption. Some of these indicators are meant to help international and national policy-makers evaluate priorities for their policy agendas. Other indicators provide investors with information for framing their economic strategies, or donors with an instrument to decide funding allocations and conditions. Yet other global indicators serve purely information purposes and seek to document circumstances that would otherwise remain underappreciated, and to shed light on these circumstances’ causes, effects and possible remedies. Whatever their purpose, the booming production of indicators has had an impact that exceeds by far their intended goals. The rise of global indicators has contributed to a change in the place and style of policy-making. Indicators have fostered the emergence of new institutions, markets, professions, and communities of researchers and practitioners. They have affected the value, expectations and behaviours of many actors at various levels of society. They have modified how international organizations work and how studies in social sciences are performed. Indicators have permeated public discourse and mass culture, effecting invisible but substantial shifts in how things are described and conceived.
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