Toward a social report (Ann Arbor paperbacks)

States, United

The Nation has no comprehensive set of statistics reflecting social progress or retrogression. There is no Government procedure for periodic stocktaking of the social health of the Nation. The Government makes no Social Report. We do have an Economic Report, required by statute, in which the President and his Council of Economic Advisors report to the Nation on its economic health. We also have a comprehensive set of economic indicators widely thought to be sensitive and reliable. Statistics on the National Income and its component parts, on employment and unemployment, on retail and wholesale prices, and on the balance of payments are collected annually, quarterly, monthly, sometimes even 'weekly. These economic indicators are watched by Government officials and private citizens alike as closely as a surgeon watches a fever chart for indications of a, change in the patient's condition. Although nations got along without economic indicators for centuries, it is hard to imagine doing without them now. It is hard to imagine governments and businesses operating without answers to questions which seem as ordinary as: What is happening to retail prices ? Is National Income rising ? Is unemployment higher in Chicago than in Detroit? Is our balance of payments improving?

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