When it comes to the development data needed to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is a deep disconnect between what policymakers say and what they do. There is strong rhetorical consensus that better data are a prerequisite to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leaving no one behind, but the demand for better data has not translated into corresponding growth in funding. The excitement around new data sources and disruptive technology has not been matched by support for the national systems, capacities, and infrastructure that are needed to take advantage of new data and technology, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

One reason for this is that data and statistics are often de-prioritized in budgetary decisions.  They are typically viewed as long-term investments in processes and systems in contrast to competing priorities that are viewed as having a more immediate impact on outcomes. This speaks to policymakers’ and politicians’ short-term horizons combined with impatience to see some kind of result, even when that result may not lead to systemic change. 

To confront this challenge, this paper seeks to better understand what we know about the value of data. How have economists and other researchers attempted to measure the value of data and how well do they do at painting the picture of what data are really worth? 


Contributing Partners

Open Data Watch
Non-governmental Organization
Open Data Watch is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization that works at the junction of open data and official statistics, monitoring open data policies, measuring their success and impact, sharing knowledge, building partnerships, and offering strategic advice and practical assistance to national governments, international organizations, and other NGOs.
PARIS21 - Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century
Multilateral Organization
PARIS21 promotes the better use and production of statistics throughout the developing world.
The World Bank - IBRD - IDA - World Bank Group
Multilateral Organization
The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to countries around the world. We are not a bank in the ordinary sense but a unique partnership to reduce poverty and support development.
Sustainable Development Solutions Network - A Global Initiative for the United Nations
Academic / Research Institution
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network connects researchers, practitioners, and policymakers around the globe to create and catalyze solutions to our world's most pressing economic, social, and environmental challenges.
Academic / Research Institution
AidData is a research and innovation lab based at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia that connects resources to results for sustainable development. We combine novel data, rigorous methods, and compelling analysis to assess who is funding what, where, and to what effect.
Development Gateway - Solutions that empower
Non-governmental Organization
Development Gateway works to ensure governments, organizations, and citizens can access, understand, and apply data to achieve sustainable development outcomes.
SDPI - Sustainable Development Policy Institute
Non-governmental Organization
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute is an independent non-profit organization to serve as a source of expertise for policy analysis and development, policy intervention, and policy and program advisory services for Pakistan.
Local Development Research Institute LDRI Logo
Academic / Research Institution
Local Development Research Institute (LDRI) is an action-oriented think tank whose core objective is to support African Union member states in their efforts to end poverty, end hunger, and address inequality in all its forms.
UK Aid from the British people
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty, building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for all of us which is firmly in the UK’s national interest.

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