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B.1.  Roles of statistical business registers  

5.8.            The Statistical Commission recommends the 2008 SNA to obtain a comprehensive and coherent set of statistics of the national economy. Implementation of the 2008 SNA begins with setting up a basic data collection system for all economic activities. That effort goes hand in hand with setting up a system for integrated economic statistics, based to a large degree on the use of a statistical business register (SBR) as the central frame for all business surveys. Therefore, a number of regional and international agencies have been actively engaged in establishing and improving SBRs, especially in Africa,[1] Asia and Europe. Those improvements will benefit the collection of data by means of business surveys, as well as the collection of some administrative data, for the compilation of trade in services statistics.

5.9.            An SBR is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. As such, it is a vital component of an integrated programme of economic surveys. The ultimate goal is the production of comprehensive, coherent and high-quality economic statistics. Figure 5.1 illustrates the various roles of an SBR. One of its important roles is to maintain and keep track of the changes in statistical units and their characteristics owing to real-life events (see section B.3). This is a continuous process of modification. The frequency of modification depends upon the update strategy of the SBR. In this respect, the SBR can be considered as a kind of “live register”, in which the composition of units changes constantly over time.[2]


Next: B.2. The statistical business register as the central sample frame


[1] African Development Bank, Guidelines for Building Statistical Business Registers in Africa: Laying the Foundation for the Harmonization of Economic Statistics Programs (Tunis, 2014). Available from

[2] Further details on the European experience in that respect can be found in Eurostat, Business Registers: Recommendations Manual.