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Country Profile of Italy

Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT)
Web address
www.istat.it
Position in the government
The President of the National Institute of Statistics, chosen from among the professors of statistics, economics and related subjects, shall be appointed, in accordance with Law No. 400 of 23 August 1988, by Decree of the President of the Republic on a proposal from the Prime Minister following a resolution of the Council of Ministers. Every year the Prime Minister provides the Parliament with a detailed report on ISTAT activities.

ISTAT President is bound to answer the observations and remarks of the Commission for the protection of Statistical Information. the Commission supervises the impartiality and completeness of statistical information, the quality of methodologies, the compliance of surveys with EU and international directives and is established within the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

The production of adequate public statistical information needs independence from political influences and from pressure of organised interests, clear aims, strict methodology, and full awareness of the citizens' needs and rights. To carry out these principles, the legislative decree n.322/89 has established within the Office of the Premier a Commission for guaranteeing statistical information.

The Commission supervises the information's impartiality and completeness, the quality of statistical methodologies and information technology systems used to collect, store and spread data, and the compliance of the surveys with the directives of EC bodies and international organizations. The nine members of the Commission, who are appointed every six years and for only one mandate, are designated with the President of the Republic's decree following the Prime Minister's proposal. The Commission meets at least twice a year and draws up a yearly report, which is attached to the Prime Minister's report about Istat's activities and then presented to the Parliament. As the authority guaranteeing for official statistics, the Commission is responsible for the truthfulness and correctness of the inquiries carried out by the National Statistical System within the National Statistical Program.
Organizational structure and finance
The government bodies are the President and the Board which program, direct and evaluate the activities, in particular the technical-scientific ones, of the Institute and of the top management. The General Manager co-ordinates the administrative and organisational aspects of departmental activities.

Departments and offices: The Institute is composed of Departments, which are divided into one or more central Directions. The cabinet office, the international relations office and the communication office collaborate directly with the President and the Board. The office in charge of strategic evaluation and control operates independently and reports directly to the government bodies. In order to achieve its institutional aims Istat also relies on regional offices.
Multi-annual or annual work program
The National Statistical Programme (NSP) is a three-year programme that is annually updated.Drawn up by Istat upon decision of the Committee for Directing and Co-ordinating Statistical Information; supervised by the Commission for Guaranteeing Statistical Information and Authority for Privacy; comes into force with a Prime Minister's Decree. The Programme defines the statistical surveys of public interest to be assigned to the National Statistical System and identifies their objectives.

National Statistical Programme defines the public interest statistical surveys assigned to the National Statistical System, and it is prepared by Istat, decided by the Committee for Directing and Co-ordinating Statistical Information subjected to the opinion of the Commission for Guaranteeing Statistical Information, and, after having consulted the authority on privacy and having received the Cipe's decision, it becomes operative trough a Prime Minister's decree.

All administrations, authorities and public bodies have to provide the data requested for the surveys indicated in the National Statistical Program (PSN). Private subjects have the same duty only for those surveys established by decree of the President of the Republic. The so-called sensitive data (religious beliefs, political opinions, health conditions) are never included in the obligation to respond.

The program refers to a period of three years, but it's updated every year. The PSN now in force, is the one decided upon for the years 2002-2004 which includes, on the whole, over one thousand works. EC provisions have a considerable impact on the program: the surveys and the processing which have to be done according to EC regulations and directives are respectively 113 and 101. In addition, 114 works are finalised to the European integration of Sistan's production at a European level. The creation of information systems represents another strategic course of the current Program: there are 151 projects tended to this aim, and 102 of them have been assigned to Istat.

A significant role in preparing and monitoring the PSN is played by the Quality circles: permanent work groups which, sector by sector, involve official statistics producers and users, ensuring a more precise compliance of the surveys to the Italian society's and economic reality's needs.
Main duties
Today the Institute represents a part, the most substantial, of the big National Statistical System (Sistan) network which has the task of producing and spreading official statistics to the country and to international organizations.


Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
For over three quarters of a century the National Institute of Statistis (Istat) has reflected Italy, interpreting the role of witness of its history and offering statistical information for managing the future of economy and society.

Italy's national statistical institute has been operating for more than 75 years and it is the main producer of the country's official statistics, representing, in a way, its quantitative memory.

Since its birth, in 1926, it has been following Italy's evolution, describing the general phenomena which concern and transform the country. Starting from the second half of the XIX century, when the statistical function belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture at first and then subsequently to other ministries, official statistics offered instruments to verify important aspects of the country's life. And Istat was constituted to systematize and collect information into a coherent context.

Right from the beginning, the Institute appears as an instrument of democracy. The constant publication of the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics gives all citizens access to the main data on the nation's activity. As new information is requested in time, the Institute responds readily. There are many stages in its way to knowledge. One for all: the sample survey concerning the labour forces which, after several local trials and its start on a national scale in 1957, still represents today the main instrument of control for the job market, and it's able to show inequalities and discomfort areas.


Legal basis
Legal basis
D.Lgs. 6 settembre 1989, n. 322 (Gazz. Uff. 22 settembre 1989, n. 222) Norme sul Sistema statistico nazionale e sulla riorganizzazione dell'Istituto nazionale di statistica, ai sensi dell'art.24 della legge 23 agosto 1988, n. 400

Today the Institute represents a part, the most substantial, of the big National Statistical System (Sistan) network which has the task of producing and spreading official statistics to the country and to international organizations.

The net: Since 1989, due to the legislative decree n.322, the statistical offices established within ministries, regions and self-governing provinces, chambers of commerce, provinces, municipalities and other authorities of national interest, work together with Istat to provide the most integrated and reliable picture of the country's reality and of its sectorial and territorial articulations.

The ratio: Sistan was born to rationalise the production of information, avoiding duplications and optimising resources meant for official statistics. The Committee responsible for directing and coordinating statistical information, one of the governing bodies of the system, has managerial functions regarding the statistics offices and deliberates the national statistical program, which includes all the public interest surveys entrusted to the system.


Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
The law 322/89 provides legal framework for the NSS (Sistan) and the role of NSI (ISTAT). According to the law, any public administration is provided with a statistical office. Statistical offices cooperate to provide data and official statistics.
The task of coordinating the NSS is statutorily held by ISTAT. Besides Istat, other bodies belong to the National Statistical System, namely the statistical offices of: ministries, national agencies, regions and autonomous provinces, provinces, municipalities, chambers of commerce, local governmental offices, some private agencies and private subjects who have specific characteristics determined by law. The coordination operates through different kind of instruments (informal meetings, working groups, procedures, and the Committee for Directing and Coordinating Statistical Information.


Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
A Committee for Directing and Co-ordinating Statistical Information (COMSTAT) and a Commission for Guaranteeing Statistical Information have been established. COMSTAT addresses and co-ordinates central and local statistical offices and deliberates on the National Statistical Programme, while the Commission for Guaranteeing Statistical Information is an external, autonomous and independent body that supervises the impartiality and completeness of statistical information, the quality of methodologies, the compliance of surveys with EU and international directives. Moreover Scientific Commissions on some very important topics such as the Population Census and the Integrated System of Social Surveys where the users (academicians, persons responsibles for central and local policy in social field), every 1-2 months, evaluate activities and provide advise on innovations have been established.


Data collection
Most recent population census
21 October 2001
Access to administrative data
In 1996 a new legislative Act has given the opportunity to have access to all kind of administrative data.
Data confidentiality
ISTAT has an official code of ethics and good conduct when using details for the purposes of statistics and scientific research within the National Statistical System. The ethical code aims at guaranteeing that the use of personal details for statistical purposes respects the rights, fundamental freedom and dignity of the persons involved, especially with regard to confidentiality and personal data. The code is coherent with relevant international sources such as: the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950; European Parliament and Council Directive 95/46/EC; Council of Europe Recommendation R(97(18; Article 10 of Council Regulation 322/97.

Both micro and macro data are treated for confidentiality checks that minimise the risk of disclosure according to the latest methodologies. A Code of conduct for official statistics has recently been published that takes particular care of confidentiality in all phases of a statistical survey.


Data dissemination
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
The press release calendar is published once a year while a weekly disseminarion release informs on the forthcoming publications.

Since statistics are considered a public good the dissemination policy follows the following criteria: making statistical information clear and accessible; supporting media in order to allow a correct use of the data; improving the relationship with the respondents, the citizens first of all. The tools adopted to implement this three main goals are a data shop, a library, the web site, press releases, press conferences, the A.D.E.L.E. laboratory to access micro.data and various publications, pamphlets and advisory booklets.
Main publications
The volumes published by Istat are collected in six series. The Yearbooks contain the documentation of a whole year on individual areas; the Information offer timely data on the main economic facts, usually also on electronic support; the Topics mostly deal with social themes; the Methods and Rules illustrate methods and classifications; the English language series Essays favours comparative studies and researches; the Statistical Annals represent the seat of scientific debates, and, more often, of historical considerations about statistics.

General publications: The Yearly Report represents a permanent instrument for the analysis of emerging phenomena in the country; the Italian Statistical Yearbook, also available on CD-ROM, contains the main statistical tables produced by Istat and by other National Statistical System bodies; the Monthly Statistical Bulletin updates monthly current information. Finally, there are publications meant for a non-specialist public which Istat does in collaboration with publishing companies chosen through tenders: the Report on Italy, a synthetic and popular version of the Yearly Report, has been appearing for years now; and Women at University, which offers a picture of the female presence in the Italian university system.
Languages of main publications
Italian, English
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
All possible formats.
Availability of microdata for research purposes
Istat routinely releases Microdata Files for Research (anonymised microdata) for the most important social surveys: labour force survey, household expenditure survey, multipurpose survey, European Community household panel, transition from study to work etc. Istat may also produce anonymised microdata set for different surveys on request. Moreover, according to Regulation 831/2002 Istat also releases anonymised microdata for the following business surveys: Community Innovation Survey and Continuing Vocational Training Survey. Microaggregated data are available for structural business statistics. Researchers can also access confidential microdata on site at Istat through the Data Analysis Centre (Laboratorio A.D.ELE.). Finally, for the purpose of carring out particular studies in the interest if Istat, contracts can be made with universities to provide researchers access to confidential microdata.



On demand
Istat has strengthened the on demand service, which allows to obtain personalised processing and sample collections of elementary data (file standard). For further information: richieste.dati@istat.it.

A.D.ELE. laboratory
Istat has strengthened the on demand service, which allows to obtain personalised processing and sample collections of elementary data (file standard). For further information: richieste.dati@istat.it.




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