About the Working Group

The Open Economics Working Group is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation in association with the Centre for Intellectual and Property Law (CIPIL) at the University of Cambridge. Its membership consists of leading academics and researchers, public and private sector economists, representatives from national and international public bodies and other experts from around the world.

We want economics to be built on sound, transparent foundations, wherever possible. In particular, it is important that the data and associated analysis (particularly as represented in runnable code) be openly available to all members of society — not just other economists.

This working group therefore exists to:

  • Act as a central point of reference and support for those interested in open economic data: that is, economic data which can be freely used, reused, and redistributed for any purpose (www.opendefinition.org).
  • Identify best practice as well as legal, regulatory and technical standards for open economic data.
  • Act as a hub for the development and maintenance of low-cost, community driven projects related to open material in economics.

Why

Today, we have available the technologies and legal mechanisms to open up an unprecedented amount of information relevant to understanding economies and markets. In opening up economic data we enable it to be freely combined and redistributed with other sources of information, leading to the emergence of a richer ecosystem of information sharing and a greater ability to combine this material with the increasingly sophisticated tools for representation, visualization and analysis that are available. These developments would benefit both expert economists and the wider general public interested in economic issues.

However currently many individuals and organisations involved in publishing economic data are not making their data explicitly open and are not aware of the benefits of doing so. Moreover, now more than ever, it is imperative for us to gain a better shared picture of economies and markets around the globe, to inform policies aimed at economic recovery, to make economic decisions more transparent, and to make decision makers more accountable. From understanding the roots of the financial crisis to the impact of patents on innovation to the effectiveness of international development funding, sharing economic data more effectively is the first step towards better policies, and more collaborative research around major international problems.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Funds Open Economics Working Group

“Open datasets have the potential to revolutionize economics as a discipline and accelerate breakthroughs in the field,” says Daniel L. Goroff, Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Support for the Open Knowledge Foundation’s work will not only help advance empirical research by academics, but also improve everyone’s understanding of important economic processes and trends.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance.

Get involved

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