Duncan MacRae analyzes the ways in which experts can aid a political community in choosing public statistics for citizens to use in making policy judgments. In contrast to the study of social indicators, which has emphasized descriptions and models of social change, he stresses that the relevant measures should be selected in view of their potential applications.
The usefulness of a public statistical series depends on the goals it represents and on our knowledge of how to act collectively to achieve those ends. The measures chosen, MacRae notes, can include gauges of social objectives, such as health and education improvements or crime reduction, and administrative inputs that promote them. He recommends, however, that the measures should be organized around general ends such as net economic benefit, subjective well-being, and equity. Knowledge about how to further collective aims, MacRae contends, requires strenthening of "technical communities" of researchers who study the means to the ends that policy indicators measure.
Policy Indicators provides a critical review of the field of social indicators, stressing the uses of statistics in policy debate. For applied social scientists and policy analysts, it presents broad proposals for the roles of their fields in a democracy.
About the Author
Duncan MacRae, Jr.'s books include Policy Analysis for Public Decisions, The Social Function of Social Science, and Parliament, Parties, and Society in France, 1946-1958.
What People are Saying About This
Makes an original and brilliant contribution to the field. Peter H. Rossi