The Uncounted
The Uncounted
What we count matters - and in a world where policies and decisions are underpinned by numbers, statistics and data, if you’re not counted, you don’t count.

Alex Cobham argues that systematic gaps in economic and demographic data not only lead us to understate a wide range of damaging inequalities, but also to actively exacerbate them.  He shows how, in statistics ranging from electoral registers to household surveys and census data, people from disadvantaged groups, such as indigenous populations, women, and disabled people, are consistently underrepresented.  This further marginalizes them, reducing everything from their political power to their weight in public spending decisions. Meanwhile, corporations and the ultra-rich seek ever greater complexity and opacity in their financial affairs - and when their wealth goes untallied, it means they can avoid regulation and taxation.

This brilliantly researched book shows how what we do and don’t count is not a neutral or ‘technical’ question: the numbers that rule our world are skewed by raw politics. Cobham forensically lays bare how these issues strike at the heart of our democracy, entrenching inequality and injustice – and outlines what we can do about it.
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  • February 2020 (hb)
    January 2020 (pb)
  • 200 pages
  • 145 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509536016
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509536023
  • Open eBook $9.99
  • 9781509536030
Table of Contents



Part I     Uncounted and Excluded: The Unpeople Hidden at the Bottom

1            Development’s Data Problem

2            The ‘Data Revolution’

3            We the People – But Only Some of Them

Part II    Uncounted and Illicit: The Unmoney Hiding at the Top

4            Uncounted at the Top

5            Tax and Illicit Financial Flows in the Sustainable Development Goals

6            Inequality, Understated

Part III   The Uncounted Manifesto



About the Author
Alex Cobham is chief executive of the Tax Justice Network and a commissioner for the statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission for Scotland.
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‘In this sharply written and persuasive book, Alex Cobham contrasts the rich who benefit from being uncounted for tax and regulation purposes with the poor who are denied their rights by being uncounted for public services. Essential reading to understand and address inequality.’  
Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 

‘This book is a joy to read. Original and highly persuasive, it powerfully illustrates that statistics are political, and that the failure to count is a deliberate act that disempowers the poor and unfairly benefits the rich.’
Andrew Sumner, King’s College London

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