The majority of statistical information from the ECB and the ESCB fulfils high quality standards in terms of harmonisation, coverage and methodological soundness of source data.
At the same time, there are some cases where compromises have to be made with respect to one or more of these quality dimensions, for example because full harmonisation has still to be achieved or because less costly data are considered sufficient for a certain purpose. Against this background and in order to further increase the transparency of its data releases, the ECB has introduced the label “experimental data”.
Experimental data are economic and financial data, collected and compiled by the ECB, whose quality is somewhat lower than that of other ECB statistics. These datasets are nevertheless regarded as sufficiently reliable to be useful for monetary policy purposes and various ESCB tasks, and may therefore also be of interest to users outside the ECB. Experimental data encompass, for example, statistics that are not yet fully developed in terms of coverage or euro area-wide harmonisation or rely heavily on estimation techniques using substantial assumptions. While of considerable immediate value for analysts, they may still be in a testing phase and subject to improvements. There may also be cases where certain data retain experimental status permanently because the source data required to improve their quality are not available or are too costly to collect.
In summary, experimental data have one or several of the following characteristics:
- insufficiently harmonised (e.g. concepts vary from one country to another)
- incomplete coverage (e.g. country coverage adds up to less than 80% of the total euro area)
- sub-optimal in terms of the statistical concepts and methodologies applied (e.g. based on data sources which are not fully adequate to meet the statistical definition)
- based on estimation techniques using substantial assumptions (this applies, for example, to some of the backdata for the euro area prior to its existence )
In addition, it should be noted that all euro area statistics for periods prior to 1999 are by definition synthetic in nature since they refer to a non-existent geographical area.
In order to allow experimental data to be easily identified among the statistical information released by the ECB, they are clearly marked and explained.
Experimental data are disseminated via ECB publications (the Monthly Bulletin and the Statistics Pocket Book), the ECB’s website (under the corresponding subject area) and/or the ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse, or are available on request. The relevant datasets are as follows:
A. Experimental data disseminated via ECB’s publications and/or the ECB’s website:
- historical time series 1970-79 of euro area monetary aggregates (M1, M2-M1 and M3)
- euro area annual accounts for institutional sectors, first release, 1999-2004
- euro area capital stock volume
- euro area residential property price index
- euro area negotiated wages
- historical time series 1980-96 of euro area balance of payments current account, main items
- the euro as an invoicing currency: euro area exports and imports of goods and services
- HICP-based estimates of administered prices in the euro area
B. Experimental data available upon request:
- historical time series 1980-89 of the euro area Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices
- historical time series 1980-90 of the euro area Producer Price Index
- historical time series 1970-90 of euro area industrial production
- euro area structural housing indicators.
C. Experimental data disseminated via ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse
- Euro Area Real Time Database