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History

CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) was founded in September 1945, just after the Second World War. The founders thought that the Netherlands needed a new planning agency, which would supply the government with scientific knowledge and insights needed for active economic policy.

The government wanted to rebuild the country, and focused particularly on expanding employment. Even so, the issue of the extent to which government should interfere in the economy was a source of much debate. 

Foundation

Shortly after Hein Vos was appointed Economic Affairs Minister in the Schermerhorn-Drees cabinet, he assigned Jan Tinbergen, a renowned economist, to make a proposal for a new economic planning bureau. His idea was to let economists periodically draft a plan with guidelines for economic governmental policy. Although CPB still publishes an annual Central Economic Plan (CEP), this publication has never had the content suggested by its title. It is merely an overview of the actual economic situation.

On 3 September 1945, at the proposal of Social Affairs minister Willem Drees, the cabinet decided to found CPB as an independent organisation. It commenced its work on 15 September 1945, under the directorship of Tinbergen. Only one and a half years later, the Bureau obtained a legal basis, in the ‘Law Concerning the Preparation of a Central Economic Plan’, dated 21 April 1947.

Advice or Analysis

The explanatory statement to the 1947 legislation showed that CPB’s tasks were limited to the provision of general social-economic insights on how economic policies could contribute to economic growth.  A central issue was whether CPB should explicitly issue policy advice, or limit itself to analysing the effects of proposed policy measures. This latter option was chosen with conviction. CPB’s work is supportive to the political primacy in public policymaking.

Models and predictions

Tinbergen was a pioneer in the field of econometric modelling, which enables the short- to mid-term forecasting of economic developments in the Netherlands and supports economic policy analysis. The models are being refined and improved continually, depending on the evolving insights in the economic sciences.

Since Tinbergen’s time, CPB has significantly widened the scope of its activities. It covers more issue areas and also uses many other research methods besides economic modelling.

 

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