This Occasional Paper presents the proceedings of the 1999 annual Symposium of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the associated Cunningham Lecture.

The Symposium and the Lecture focused on various aspects of the measurement and analysis of human development, especially in developing countries. Special attention was paid to the challenges faced by national and international statistical agencies in providing sound statistics for informed decision-making.

The Academy is indebted to the Australian Bureau of Statistics for its generous support of a meeting which brought together the rich intellectual traditions of demography, economics, economic history and statistics; and to the speakers, most of whom have combined distinguished careers in academia with a wealth of practical experience as advisors to governments and international organisations.