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Country Profile of France

Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE)
Web address
Position in the government
The National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques: INSEE) is a "General Directorate" of the French Ministry in charge of the economy. It is therefore a government agency, whose members are government employees irrespective of whether or not they are civil servants (fonctionnaires). INSEE is subjected to government accounting rules: it is funded from the central-government's general budget; the Institute can also collect revenues from the sale of its publications and certain kinds of contracting work performed for other agencies.
Organizational structure and finance
INSEE employs around 5,800 people at facilities across the country.


The Head Office defines and carries out statistical and economic projects. It coordinates the official statistical system and manages the Institute's human, financial, and IT resources. It is organized into broad sectors: coordination and international relations; business statistics; demographic and social statistics; economic studies and national accounts; dissemination and regional action.

5 Statistical Directorates: Statistical Coordination and International Relations, Business Statistics, Demographic and Social Statistics, Economic Studies and National Accounts, Dissemination and Regional Action.

4 Supporting Directorates: General Inspectorate, General Secretariat (Human Resources, Finance and General Services), Information Technology, Higher Education and Research (including INSEE's 4 training institutions).

Regional facilities:

A network of 24 Regional Offices take part in all INSEE missions: they act as basic echelons for information collection and as units for conducting studies and disseminating economic and social statistical information at the regional level. Thanks to their locations, they are in a privileged position to gather and process local data, as well as to register and satisfy the needs of local players. Their main interlocutors are the other central-government agencies operating regionally and local authorities.

Note: the French West Indies/French Guiana Inter-Regional Office (Direction Interrégionale Antilles-Guyane: DIRAG) includes, in addition to the main office in Pointe-à-Pitre, three regional services in Guadeloupe, Guiana, and Martinique.
Multi-annual or annual work program
The CNIS, INSEE, statistical offices and bodies prepare a medium term (5 year) program of work for national statistics, and an annual program of work as well.
Main duties
The National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) collects and produces information on the French economy and society. This information is made available to the entire national community (government, business, researchers, media, educators, private individuals) for study, forecasting, and decision-making purposes.

Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
Before INSEE

In 1833, at the Ministry of Trade, a General Statistics Office was created, which in 1840 took the name it was to keep until 1941: Statistique Générale de la France (SGF). At the end of 1936, this became a department of the Ministry of the National Economy. In particular, SGF produced demographic statistics and price indices. It coordinated statistics from all sources and disseminated them in the Statistics Directory (created in 1878), the Bulletin of general statistics in France (created in 1911) and specifically targeted publications.

In 1941 the National Statistics Service (Service National des Statistiques, SNS) was created, taking on many staff from the former army recruitment offices, as well as recovering tabulating equipment destined for the various regional offices.

1946-1966: The construction of INSEE

Against a backdrop of post-war reconstruction and reorganisation, INSEE was created according to the terms of the Budget Law of 27 April 1946, "L'Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques pour la métropole et la France d'outre-mer", the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies for France and its overseas territories. From the outset, INSEE was given responsibility for managing administrative files, maintaining nomenclatures and producing statistics. The Law of 28 August 1946 gave INSEE responsibility for the electoral roll. The first national file of establishments was created by decree in 1948. The exploitation of administrative documents began with tax forms relating to wages (1947-1950). Survey techniques imported from the United States were used for surveys on family budgets, housing, health and labour costs.

From 1961, national accounts work was carried out at INSEE, in line with international standards.

1967-1987: INSEE affirms its independence and adapts to the requirements of users

INSEE extended its information dissemination capacity, especially in the regions. In 1969, new publications were introduced, such as Économie et statistique, Tendances de la conjoncture, Annales, and Informations Rapides. Statistical practices were evolving: more surveys were being carried out on households and companies, collecting much more varied data. 1969 was the year of the first annual survey of companies in industry and construction, which was completed by INSEE in 1972. The national accounts became quarterly in 1980 and were used as a framework for the Conjoncture in France publication.

Since statistics departments could now be found in a growing number of the other administrations, INSEE strengthened its role as coordinator and gave these departments the necessary frameworks.

Since 1988: Modernisation and participation in the European statistics system

INSEE adapted its methods, not only for statistics but also for accounts or studies, to a more cyclical economy and one which was more open to the outside. New monitoring instruments were put in place, especially for underprivileged populations (e.g. survey of homeless people) and for new information and communication technologies (NICT).

The European institutional context became more restrictive within the Economic and Monetary Union. Quality norms - including norms in European regulations - had to be adhered to, especially in publication deadlines and "meta-information". INSEE adopted the use of the Internet, both for collecting data and for dissemination. From 2003, freely available information on the Internet became the rule. Finally, from 2004, the national census became an "ongoing" operation.

Teaching and research were given fresh impetus by the decree of 2 June 1994 establishing the Group of National Schools of Economics and Statistics - Groupe des écoles nationales d'économie et de statistique (GENES).

In 2005, with the adoption at European level of the European Statistics Code of Practice, INSEE undertook to comply with principles shared by its partners.

In 2008 two European consultative bodies were set up following negotiations aiming to improve the quality of European statistics: the European Statistical Advisory Committee (ESAC) and the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB).

With the French law on the modernisation of the economy, adopted on 4 August 2008, the professional independence of INSEE is inscribed in the law.

EC regulation n°223/2009 of the European Parliament and Council relating to European statistics defines a wide-ranging conceptual and operational framework for the compilation of European statistics.

Legal basis
Legal basis
Legislative framework for INSEE

Act no. 46-854 of April 27, 1946, allocating and rescinding funds for fiscal year 1946

Decree no. 46-1432 of June 14, 1946 amended for the application of the articles 32 and 33 of the Act no 46-854 of April 27, 1946, related to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE)

Decree no. 47-834 of May 13, 1947, on the organization of central departments and regional offices of the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies

Legislative framework for official statistics (French law)

Act no. 51-711 of June 7, 1951 (amended), on compulsory data-gathering, coordination, and confidentiality in the field of statistics

Decree no. 2009-250 of March 3, 2009 on the Official Statistical Authority (text in French)

Decree no. 2009-318 of March 20, 2009 on the National Council for Statistical Information and on the Committee for Statistical Confidentiality (text in French)

Order of April 27, 2005 on the organization and the functioning of the quality-label committee for statistical surveys (text in French)

Order of April 27, 2005 on the organization and the functioning of National commission for the Assessment of the Population Census (text in French)

Decree no. 2003-485 of June 5, 2003 on the population census (text in French)

Act no. 78-17 of January 6, 1978 amended on data processing, data files and individual liberties (text in French)

European legislative framework

Treaty of European Union (Amsterdam Treaty): article 285 (ex-article 213 A) (Journal officiel n° C 340 dated Novembre 10, 1997)

Regulation (EC) no. 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 on European statistics

Decision no. 234/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Concil of 11 March 2008 establishing the European Statistical Advisory Committee and repealing Council Decision 91/116/EEC Text with EEA relevance

Decision no. 235/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2008 establishing the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board Text with EEA relevance

The European Statistics Code of Practice (Commission’s recommendation, May 2005)

97/281/EC: Commission Decision of April 21, 1997 on the role of Eurostat as regards the production of Community statistics

Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
Ministerial statistical offices (Services statistiques ministériels - SSM) :

Agriculture: The Statistics and Forward Studies Department (Service de la Statistique et de la Prospective -SSP), Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

Civil Service: The Office for Statistics, Studies and Evaluation of the General Directorate of the Administration and the Civil Service (Bureau Statistiques, Études et Évaluation - BSEV), Ministry for the Budget, Public Accounts and State Reform

Culture: The Department for Studies, Forward Studies and Statistics (Département des Études, de la Prospective et des Statistiques - DEPS), Ministry for Culture and Communication

Customs: The Department for Statistics and Economic Studies (Département des Statistiques et des Études Économiques - DSEE), Ministry for the Budget, Public Accounts and State Reform

Defence: The Defence Economic Observatory (Observatoire Économique de la Défense - OED), Ministry for Defence

Education: The education ministry statistical office within the Department for Evaluation, Forward Studies and Performance (Direction de l'Évaluation, de la Prospective et de la Performance - DEPP), Ministry for National Education

Fisheries and Aquaculture: The Office for Statistics on Fisheries and Aquaculture (Bureau des Statistiques des Pêches et de l'Aquaculture - BSPA), Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

Health and Solidarities: The Department for Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Direction de la Recherche, des Études, de l'Évaluation et des Statistiques - DREES), Ministry for Health and Sports, Ministry for Work, Solidarity and Civil Service, and Ministry for the Budget, Public Accounts and State Reform

Higher Education and Research: The Sub-Department for Information Systems and Statistical Studies (Sous-direction des Systèmes d'Information et des Études Statistiques - SIES), Ministry for Higher Education and Research

Immigration: The Department for Statistics, Studies and Documentation (Département des Statistiques, des Études et de la Documentation - DSED), Ministry for Immigration, Integration, National Identity, Solidarity and Development

Justice: The Sub-Department for Statistics and Studies (Sous-direction de la Statistique et des Études - S/D SE), Ministry for Justice and Freedoms

Labour-Employment: The Department for Coordination of Research, Studies and Statistics (Direction de l'Animation de la Recherche, des Études et des Statistiques - DARES), Ministry for Work, Solidarity and Civil Service, and Ministry for the Economy, Industry and Employment

Local Government: The Department for Local Studies and Statistics (Département des Études et des Statistiques Locales - DESL), Ministry for the Interior, Overseas Territories and Local Authorities

Sustainable Development: The Department for Observation and Statistics of the General Commission for Sustainable Development (Service de l'Observation et des Statistiques - SOES), Ministry for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea, in charge of green technologies and climate negotiations

Youth Affairs and Sports: The Mission for Studies, Observation and Statistics (Mission des Études, de l'Observation et des Statistiques - MEOS), Ministry for Youth and Active Solidarities

Other statistics producing agencies in France:

Bank of France

Energy statistics: "Pegase" [Pegasus] database - Energy Observatory (Observatoire de l'Énergie), Ministry of the Economy, Industry and Employment

French Centre for Research on Education, Training and Employment (Centre d'Études et de Recherches sur les Qualifications - CEREQ)

National Institute for Demographic Studies (Institut National d'Études Démographiques - INED)

Public Finance General Directorate (Direction Générale des Finances Publiques: DGFiP) - Ministry of Budget, Public Accounts and State Reform

Tourism statistics: General Directorate for Competitiveness, Industry and Services (Direction Générale de la Compétitivité, de l'Industrie et des Services: DGCIS) - Ministry of the Economy, Industry and Employment

Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
CNIS stands for 'Conseil National de l'Information Statistique' e.g. French National Council for Statistical Information.

It provides a forum for producers and users of public statistics. As coordinator of government statistical activities, it prepares a medium-term program, and -within that framework- an annual program incorporating all public surveys.

CNIS is composed of a main body, the Council. Its work is prepared by a permanent bureau and by 7 thematic commissions. Members of the Council represent the parliamentary assemblies, unions, professional organizations, chambers of commerce, industry…, local authorities, researchers, associations, journalists, INSEE, the national bank and INED. The bureau gathers 17 members of the Plenary Assembly. CNIS also hosts a statistical disclosure Committee in charge of granting access to confidential micro-data, a label committee deciding whether a public survey will be compulsory or not, and a contentious committee in charge of all contentious procedures vis a vis non respondents.

For more information, connect to CNIS website (

The Official Statistics Authority (Autorité de la statistique publique - ASP)

The Official Statistics Authority ensures that official statistics are prepared in all professional independence and according to the fundamental principles in the “European Statistics Code of Practice”: impartiality, objectivity, relevance and data quality.

The Authority gathers 9 members.

For more information, connect to ASP website (

Data collection
Most recent population census
1 January 2007
Access to administrative data
INSEE systematically gives priority to using administrative sources rather than surveys, whenever possible. In order to ease the reporting burden weighing on businesses, business statisticians have developed specific sample coordination methods (so-called negative organisation) to ensure that different survey samples overlap as little as possible.
Data confidentiality
There are two laws to ensure total confidentiality.

Statistical confidentiality
Compliance with statistical confidentiality -a concept laid down in the Act of June 7, 1951- is required of all employees in the official statistical system. The law forbids the release to any institution or person of the individual information derived from statistical surveys and from the administrative records used to prepare statistics.

Information technology and civil liberties
The Act of January 6, 1978, seeks to prevent violations of privacy and personal freedom arising from the computer processing of data on private individuals. The National Commission on Information Technology and Civil Liberties (CNIL) is responsible for enforcing the Act.

Data dissemination
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
A permanently updated release calendar is available on line. It covers most of monthly and quarterly statistics (indices, economic climate surveys), as well as the results of major surveys, and all new publications (economic studies).
Main publications
Serial publications with the latest information:

INSEE Premiere - Four-page digest of latest indicators

INSEE Conjoncture - A range of publications to bring you the most recent statistics

Economie et Statistique - Economic analysis papers

INSEE References - Focus on the French economy and society

INSEE Resultats - Detailed INSEE research findings

INSEE Methodes - Methodology of INSEE studies and models

Courrier des Statistiques - Activities of the official statistical system. Developments in statistical tools and methods.
Languages of main publications
French; some English.
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
All possible formats.
Availability of microdata for research purposes
Access to micro data from official statistics is granted to Eurostat whenever necessary, on the purpose of building european statistics only. Besides, access is granted to researchers after acceptance of their application to the statistical disclosure Committee (for business statistics) and to the CNIL (for statistics on individuals). The access is generally limited to a certain time period and to the specific data desired. For micro data on individuals, the data are anonymised and grouped in wide enough geographical areas.

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