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Illicit Trade Group & Rudolf Agricola School webinar - LUKAS LINSI: “The politics of illicit trade statistics’

When:We 07-06-2023 12:00 - 13:00

Together with the Illicit Trade Group the Rudolf Agricola School organizes a webinar on Wednesday 7 June 2023 from 12-1 pm entitled: 'The politics of illicit trade statistics'.

Dr. Lukas Linsi discusses the politics of numbers and why estimates of illicit trade are often presented as valid and precise even when they are not.

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Economic statistics are generally considered as unproblematic, accurate and authoritative measures of cross-border flows. Yet, headline economic indicators do not fall from the sky. They are constructed through processes that are shaped by political forces.

The first part of the talk will highlight the politics of economic statistics more broadly and argue that economic statistics are more ambiguous constructs than it is commonly realized.

The second part will introduce ongoing research (joint work with Francesco Giumelli, Leonard Seabrooke and Seiki Tanaka) that zooms in on the peculiar case of statistics on illicit trade.

By their nature, cross-border illegal activities are intrinsically difficult to measure, and statistics on illicit trade frequently represent rough ‘guesstimates’ rather than valid measures. Nonetheless, they are often being published as if they were accurate, unproblematic estimates.

Diving into the politics behind illicit trade statistics, the research asks what it is that drives our desire to “measure the unmeasurable”.

About the speaker

Dr. Lukas Linsi is assistant professor in international political economy at the Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen. His research interests include global politics, international trade, corporate power, and economic measurement.