1375.0 - Discussion Paper: Measuring a Knowledge-based Economy and Society - An Australian Framework, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/08/2002   
   Page tools: Print Print Page  
Contents >> Chapter 5: Possible Indicators

This chapter presents possible indicators for the framework. Each indicator is described in the context of the dimension and characteristic for which it is intended to be a measure.

The number of indicators

The number of indicators has been left deliberately large but it is unlikely that ABS would attempt to publish information in respect of all the indicators which are included in this version of the framework. Users are therefore encouraged to make suggestions as to which are the most important indicators within each dimension. Suggestions about the importance of indicators not proposed here are also welcomed.

For some characteristics, there are inadequate or no indicators. In this situation, the characteristic is included but the lack of an appropriate indicator has been highlighted.

For most of the indicators, data presented will include comparisons over time and/or with other countries.


The following list describes the characteristics of a good indicator. It should:

  • be relevant to the characteristic it is intended to describe (including policy relevant);
  • be supported by reliable and timely data;
  • be sensitive to the underlying phenomenon which it purports to measure;
  • be intelligible and easily interpreted;
  • preferably be available for several time periods including recent periods; and
  • for the purposes of international comparison, preferably be available for other countries.

For some characteristics, the most appropriate indicators will change over time. For example, in Australia, access to mobile phones is currently of interest as an indicator of household use of ICTs. However, mobile phone penetration is increasing fairly rapidly and within a relatively short time this indicator could show that the proportion of households with mobile phone access has stabilised. At that point, the mobile phone indicator will become less relevant in terms of providing useful information. However, by then we might expect that new ICTs will be emerging so it would be logical to replace it with other indicators to track the change in household use of ICTs.

Equally, for some indicators a long time series will prove useful in telling a meaningful story about a KBE/S. For example, an important indicator of innovation is expenditure on basic research by sector of performance as a percentage of GDP. Given that basic research is a key means of generating new knowledge, and this is unlikely to change in the near future, it is likely that this indicator would remain in the framework for much longer than an indicator of mobile phone coverage.

ABS criteria

ABS has included indicators based on a judgment of their performance against the criteria listed above. A framework indicator should comply with most or all of the criteria for a good indicator. Ideally, therefore, it should be relevant, reliable, timely, sensitive, intelligible, available for several time periods and available for other countries as well as Australia. There are a number of possible indicators which have not been included in the framework. Some of these have been rejected on the basis that they will generally not satisfy most of the above criteria. In other cases, indicators have been rejected because there are several better indicators of a particular characteristic.

Where possible, the indicator figure or data set will be considered in the context of a historical or international data series.

This section contains the following subsection :
      The Context dimension
      Innovation and entrepreneurship dimension
      Human capital dimension
      Information and communications technology dimension
      Economic and social impacts dimension

Previous PageNext Page