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Quality in statistics

The quality of statistics depends first and foremost on sound methodology, but ethical factors should not be overlooked. For users to gain a clear perception of the quality of statistical output, they first need to be properly informed.
That is the purpose of this "Quality" section.

In France, the quality of statistical output was a primary concern of the official statistical system well before the European Statistics Code of Practice. The Code has highlighted the issue of more effectively informing statistics users on quality, yet both the INSEE and the official statistical system are disseminating an increasing amount of information on the quality of statistical results.

Strictly speaking, the European Statistics Code of Practice applies to European statistics, namely those destined for Eurostat and the European Central Bank. The French National Council for Statistical Information (CNIS) has, however, endorsed a policy of broadening its application to encompass all official statistics from this point on, including those produced solely for national use. The INSEE and official statistics services are therefore progressively adjusting all statistical production to comply with the Code. Studies produced by the INSEE or public institutions correspond to a different rationale and are not currently affected.

The strategic choice of complying with the European Statistics Code of Practice is an opportunity to outline existing measures against a recognised framework. The increasingly globalised context has led to the gradual emergence of internationally-recognised rules aiming to ensure statistical quality. In 1994, the UN Statistical Commission adopted the principles governing international statistical activities it considered essential to democratic society : statistical institutions must function on the basis of professional concerns, including scientific and ethical principles. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have also issued recommendations on statistical quality. In 2005, the European Commission passed the European Statistics Code of Practice. Although based on previous proposals, the European Code is more detailed and practical than its predecessors. It notably refers to quality management according to the EFQM model (European Foundation for Quality Management). The Code was supplemented in 2011 with new indicators and a quality assurance framework was issued with detailed methods for most of the indicators of the Code of Practice.

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