In France, official statistics are produced by statistical offices located in government departments. These offices display a relative consistency, due both to their functions and to the rules under which they operate.
The official statistical system collects the data needed to compile quantitative results. In this capacity, it undertakes censuses and surveys, manages databases, and also draws on administrative sources.
The official statistical system produces quantitative information that constitutes the official data on which public debate will center. It constructs and computes the main indices and indicators for assessing the demographic, economic, social, and environmental conditions of France and its population.
The official statistical system analyzes the quantitative information at its disposal and uses it as the input for the studies needed to interpret the results obtained. The system gives access to the full array of information that it compiles. For each user group (government bodies, businesses, researchers, teachers, journalists or ordinary citizens), the information produced is sold or made available free of charge in paper format, on computer media (CD-ROMs) or electronically (Internet).
Among the twenty or so ministerial statistical offices that constitute the official statistical system, INSEE (Institut National de la Statistique and des Études Économiques: National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) plays a central role, ensuring overall coherence.