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SIENA GROUP FOR SOCIAL STATISTICS


Purpose

To promote and coordinate international cooperation in all areas of social statistics by focusing on social indicators, social accounting, social reporting, concepts and classifications, and on analysis of the linkages and frameworks for integrating social, economic and ecological data for the purposes of policy formulation, analysis and monitoring. The Siena Group functions as an independent, focused and flexible think tank for the development of social statistics at the local, national and international levels by filling gaps not being addressed through international organizations and by identifying frontier issues not currently receiving enough attention.

Active years

1993 - 2005

Participants

Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Economic Commission for Europe, European Union, Statistical Office of the European Union, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI), affiliated with the United Nations, United Nations Statistics Division, United Nations Development Programme, academic researchers.

Meetings and other events

1. Siena, Italy, October 1993.
2. Stockholm, June 1994.
3. Oslo, June 1995.
4. Paris, June 1996.
5. Neuchâtel, Switzerland, June 1997.
6. Sydney, December 1998.
7. Maastricht, the Netherlands, May 2000.
8. London, November 2002.
9. Budapest, November 2003.
10. Helsinki, February 2005 (Final Meeting).

Intermediate meeting on strategic short-term and medium-term goals: Geneva, December 2001.

International summer school on social statistics: Siena, 1998-2000. The summer school was organized by the Training Institute for European Statisticians and the Siena Group in cooperation with the University of Siena and sponsored by Eurostat. The program was developed around three themes arranged over three consecutive years. The first theme was "Inequality and equity" (1998), the second "Participation, discrimination and exclusion" (approached mainly from the meso level) (1999) and the third "Cohesion, integration and policy analysis" (approached mainly from the macro level) (2000).

Topics considered

1. National accounts, economic analysis and social statistics.
2. Social reporting and social accounting.
3. Monitoring social exclusion in education and labor markets.
4. Inter-generational relations and social mobility.
5. On the way to a multicultural society.
6. Families at the end of the twentieth century.
7. Accounting in social statistics and indicators for social development.
8. Concept and measurement of social capital.
9. Concept and measurement of crime, justice and safety.

Report of the 2005 meeting

The Siena Group on Social Statistics held its Final Meeting in Helsinki, Finland on 9-11 February 2005. The Meeting was organized by Statistics Finland in collaboration with the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) and was attended by representatives of national statistical offices and international organizations, by social policy makers and by academic researchers.

The Siena Group discussed the following topics at its Meeting:
i) Statistics on crime, justice and safety;
ii). Statistics on international migration;
iii) Record linking techniques for social statistics;
iv) Measurement of social capital;
v) International statistical cooperation.

The Siena Group reviewed its position as a UN City Group in respect of the recommendations made by the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 35th Session (New York, 2-5 March 2004). The Siena Group reviewed its activities over the past eleven years having regard to its original mandate and the direction now being set by the Commission. In regard to the former, it was stressed that the role of the Siena Group should be evaluated in a positive way, as it has clearly contributed to a better state of social statistics both at a national level and at an international level. In particular, the exchange of information on social statistics developments in various countries has played an important role in avoiding duplication of effort and identifying potential efficiencies in social statistics programs. However, it does not consider that the Group's structure, membership and resources enable it to respond in an effective manner to the direction now being set by the Commission. In these circumstances it has reluctantly concluded that it should disband as a UN City Group.

The participants in the 2005 Siena Group meeting still emphasized the continuing need for an (informal) international network at this level to act as an independent, focused, flexible and forward-looking think tank for the strategic development of social statistics at local, national and international level. In this context it welcomed the proposal made by Eurostat and UNECE to the Bureau of the Conference European Statisticians to organize, possibly back-to-back with the annual European Meetings of Directors of Social Statistics, regular meetings on social statistics which will be organized by Eurostat, OECD and UNECE and which will be open to social statistics directors from both within and outside the European Union. It is expected that these seminar type meetings on social statistics will appeal to the needs of the more statistically advanced countries to develop new methods and approaches to address emerging social issues and that the outcomes will be the development of common methodologies that the participating countries will be willing to adopt.

The members of the Siena Group would like to stress that the success of the above-mentioned meetings on social statistics will depend on proper agreements on:
i) the objectives of the meetings focused on the key drivers of social statistics;
ii) the ownership of the agenda and the continuity in the topics discussed;
iii) the frequency of the meetings in order to keep the momentum;
iv) a broad enough participation of national and international statistical offices, national and international policy makers, researchers and other key users.

The Siena Group will finalize its work on social capital by producing an Internet publication covering issues such as the definition and policy relevance of social capital, methodological questions related to its measurement and national experiences with measuring social capital by means of household surveys.

More information
The full program of the 2005 meeting and the papers presented are available at www.stat.fi/sienagroup2005.

Forthcoming meeting

The Siena Group on Social Statistics will organize no further meetings.

Point of contact

Mr. Paul van der Laan
Statistics Netherlands
Division for Social and Spatial Statistics
P.O. Box 4000
2270 JM Voorburg
Netherlands
Tel.: +31 70 337 5715
Fax: +31 70 337 5978
E-mail: plan@cbs.nl