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Statistical units are the entities for which information is sought and for which statistics are ultimately compiled. These units can, in turn, be divided into observation units and analytical units. The statistical units in the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) Rev. 3 comprise the:

- enterprise;
- enterprise group;
- kind-of-activity unit (KAU);
- local unit;
- establishment;
- homogeneous unit of production.

The statistical unit is the entity for which the required items of data are compiled. The central problem is how to define the unit. Many enterprises make more than one product. In manufacturing industry, for example, the total output of manufactured goods often includes non-principal production of other manufactured products. It is also not uncommon for manufacturing enterprises to produce goods or provide services that are not manufactured products. These could include, for example, construction output or transport services. So, a basic choice has to be made as to whether one is measuring the output of the entire enterprise, or only of its main product. In OECD Member countries, it is often assumed that the output of the main product is representative of the output of the entire enterprise.

The SNA recommends use of the United Nations ISIC system. ISIC recognises that whilst it is theoretically desirable to define units on the basis of a single activity, in practice the heterogeneous nature of activities conducted by many units makes this difficult. Under the United Nations classification system, non-principal production and non-manufacturing activities may still be included in the unit classified to manufacturing.

(Main Economic Indicators - Comparative Methodological Analysis: Industry, Retail and Construction Indicators. Available at: http://www.oecd.org/oecd/pages/home/displaygeneral/0,3380,EN-document-notheme-15-no-no-18317-0,00.html)

benefits of internationally comparable statistics cannot be realised unless standardisation is applied to both definitions and classifications of transactors as well as transactions. If two or more statistical collections cover the same industrial sector, comparisons between data cannot be made unless the object of the comparison applies to the same units.

In order to obtain useful statistics, the units on which data are collected or compiled should themselves be as homogeneous as possible with regard to the processes described in the statistics in question. This homogeneity has two aspects, namely in respect of economic activity and in respect of location sometimes extended to region (ISIC Rev. 3 paras. 52 and 54).

Source Publication:
ISIC Rev. 3, paras. 63, 76.

Cross References:
Analytical Unit - Eurostat
Observation unit - ISIC Rev. 3
Reporting unit
Statistical units – Eurostat
Unit, statistical - UN

Version Indicator: ISIC Rev. 3

Statistical Theme: Classifications

Created on Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Last updated on Tuesday, December 20, 2005