Why is there such heterogeneity in the level of technical and institutional capacity in national statistical offices (NSOs)? Although there is broad consensus about the importance of statistical information as an essential input for decision making in the public and private sectors, this does not generally translate into a recognition of the importance of the institutions responsible for the production of data. In the context of the role of NSOs in government and society, this study seeks to explain the variation in regional statistical capacity by comparing historical processes and political economy factors in 10 Latin American countries. To do so, it proposes a new theoretical and methodological framework and offers recommendations to strengthen the institutionality of NSOs.

This new publication of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the variability in the levels of statistical capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean, from the perspective of the capacity of the State theory, is based on the analysis of the political economy of statistical capacity in 10 countries of the region. It seeks to contribute to the debate on strengthening the capacity of national statistical offices (NSO). In this regard, it offers recommendations focused on the promotion of formal mechanisms (institutional reforms for the modernization of legal frameworks that govern the NSO) and informal mechanisms (taking advantage of the growing demand for data by state and civil society actors, cooperation with international actors, and the use of power dynamics within the State) that contribute to improving the processes of production, dissemination and use of official statistics.