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

5.10.        The primary benefits of maintaining one sample frame are better coverage, the harmonization of surveys, the integration of survey data, the reduction of costs and response burden, the prevention of double counting of statistical information and, above all, better quality and more coherence in official statistics. Of course, such benefits can only be realized when one central register is used to derive a sample frame.

5.11.        There are three reasons for the desirability of the construction and use of an SBR as the central sample frame. First, if survey frames are independently created and maintained, there is no means of guaranteeing their harmonization. As a result, there may be an unintentional duplication and/or omission of activities. Second, an SBR enables the practical application of standard statistical units and their classifications, which is a crucial requirement for the integration of survey outputs. Third, it is more efficient for a single organizational unit to maintain an SBR as a source of frames for all business surveys, than for each survey team to independently maintain its own frame.

5.12.        An up-to-date survey frame is required for each repetition of a regularly conducted survey. It is more efficient to maintain a frame so that it can support the sequence of repetitions of a survey than it is to create the frame afresh with each repetition. This is particularly true in the case of subannual surveys, where the overlap of sampled units from period to period is essential. Survey frame maintenance is best achieved through the development of a single SBR which is used as the source of frames for all business surveys.

5.13.        The SBR also serves as the basis for grossing up the results from the surveys to produce estimates for the entire business population, and it is the main source for data on business populations and their demographics. An SBR should preferably cover as much national economic activity as possible. However, the high cost-to-benefit ratio involved in covering the smallest units means that some sort of cut-off is usually applied in practice. In addition to its role as a sampling frame, a high-quality[1] SBR can also improve the efficiency of the national statistical system by coordinating and spreading the samples of the various statistical surveys, helping to reduce the response burden and improving the coverage and congruence of the survey results. Finally, a comprehensive and up-to-date SBR plays a central role in achieving the integration of economic statistics, and is essential for the full coordination of source data that use the same basic information about business units.[2] 


Next: B.3. Characteristics of a statistical business register


[1] Overall quality is not easy to measure, although several of its specific aspects can be used as indicators, e.g., coverage, accuracy of the data held, frequency of updates and consistency of processes (see also chapter 20).

[2] See Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics, para. 3.29.