Statistics in development cooperation - statistics by policy area

This article is part of a set of background articles providing an ‘outline of knowledge’ of international statistical cooperation between the European Union (EU) and developing countries, for non-statisticians needing to deal with statistics in development programmes and projects. The outline serves as an entry point and introduction to the much more detailed Eurostat publication 'Guide to statistics in European Commission development cooperation', downloadable in PDF format in English, French and Spanish (further down referred to as 'the Guide').

Many developing countries have weak statistical systems and mechanisms for measuring results. Good, reliable statistics are essential for measuring progress in reaching development goals and provide essential information about the effectiveness of policies and programmes. They help governments improve their policies and to be transparent and accountable about the delivery of development results. Reliable statistics are a key element towards better measurement, monitoring and management of the results of development assistance.

Part D of the Guide focuses on statistics for individual policy areas (e.g. health, education, …) The objective of Part D is to explain how statistics can be used to inform and support decision-making in these policy areas, to monitor development and to assess the results of development policies and support. The individual chapters of Part D also give advice on relevant international standards and good practices and on typical activities to improve the statistical system and the statistics produced within the specific policy area.

Full article

Introduction to 'Statistics for policy issues' (part D of the Guide)

The European Consensus on Development identifies policy areas where the European Commission has a 'comparative advantage'. Each of these policy areas covers a wide range of statistical subjects. A statistical field might also be relevant for more than one policy area. For example, water statistics might be important for the environment, water and energy and human development.

The scope of the individual chapters of Part D is defined according to the Classification of statistical activities of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

Part D is organised according to the sector policy areas of the European Consensus on Development. Each chapter follows a standard structure:

  • sector policy applications: what these data are used for;
  • concepts and definitions of the sector statistics;
  • sources of data and metadata in the sector;
  • how to analyse data quality and identify problems;
  • how to improve sector statistics and build a statistical action in the sector.

When required, this structure is adapted to fit specific aspects of the chapters. For example, the chapter on environment statistics covers several quite different sub-topics.

Overview of chapter contents

The table below matches the sector policies defined by the European Consensus for Development with the UNECE Classification of statistical activities. It also provides a quick overview of the contents of each chapter.

Chapter Content UNECE’s CSA
Trade and regional integration
D.10 International trade and balance of payments International trade statistics, balance of payments statistics, trade in services, current account of the balance of payments, foreign affiliates statistics, trade classifications, mirror studies, ASYCUDA and EUROTRACE software. 2.6
D.11 National accounts, economic accounts and the non-observed economy System of national accounts (SNA), Luxembourg recommendations, national accounts concepts and definitions (GDP, GNI), institutional sectors, supply and use tables, quarterly national accounts, classifications, ERETES software, the non-observed economy. 2.1
D.12 Price statistics Consumer price index (CPI), harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP), producer price index (PPI), export and import price and unit value indices, prices in the national accounts and purchasing power parities (PPPs). 2.7
D.19 Government finance and public sector statistics Accounting principles: cash basis versus accrual basis, guidelines for government finance statistics (GFS), government sector and public sector, government debt, revenue and expenditure, balancing items, consolidation, public expenditure and financial accountability (PEFA). 2.5
D.13 Business statistics Structural business statistics (SBS), short-term business statistics (STS), manufactured products statistics, foreign affiliates statistics (FATS), international sourcing, business services, business demography, statistical units, classification of economic activities and products, business registers, TRAMO and SEATS software, non-observed economy, 1-2-3 surveys. 2.3
Environment, sustainable management of natural resources
D.14 Environmental statistics DPSIR framework, emissions to air, ozone depleting substances (ODS), air quality, emissions to water, water resources, water quality, waste statistics, statistics on biodiversity and protected areas, land cover and land use (LU/LC) statistics, environmental accounting. 3.1
Infrastructure, communications and transport
D.15 Transport statistics Transport and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), road transport, rail transport, maritime transport, air transport, infrastructure, transport enterprises, freight transport, passenger transport, transport of dangerous goods, Sub-Saharan Africa transport policy program (SSATP), Africa infrastructure country diagnostic (AICD), Programme for infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA), mirror studies. 2.4.4
Rural development, territorial planning, agriculture, food security
D.16 Human settlements and housing statistics Design of urban planning policies and assessment of the impact of population growth on the natural environment by analysing collected data on migration and urbanisation, inadequate shelter and basic amenities, lack of services and infrastructure (e.g. water and sanitation), environmental degradation through pollution. 1.7
D.17 Agricultural, forestry and fishing statistics Economic accounts for agriculture (EAA), agricultural price statistics (APS), agricultural structures (farm structure), agricultural production statistics (crop and animal), agri-environmental indicators, wood and wood product statistics, forest resources assessment, trade in wood products, statistics on fisheries and aquaculture, Global strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics, Living standards measurement study – Integrated surveys on agriculture (LSMS-ISA), non-observed agricultural production and employment. 2.4.1
D.18 Regional and small area statistics Spatial development initiative (SDI) in Africa, administrative and functional regions, nomenclatures of territorial units, small areas, city data collection, small area estimation, EURAREA project, regional statistics and indicators. 3.2
Governance, democracy, human rights and support for economic and institutional reforms
D.19 Government finance and public sector statistics Accounting principles: cash basis versus accrual basis, guidelines for government finance statistics (GFS), government sector and public sector, government debt, revenue and expenditure, balancing items, consolidation, public expenditure and financial accountability (PEFA). 2.5
D.20 Justice and crime statistics Criminal justice system, civil law, common law, Criminal justice assessment toolkit (CJAT), offences, persons arrested, prosecution, sentences, type of crime, prison population, resource statistics (number of officers and personnel, budget), victim surveys, Crime trends and operations of criminal justice systems (CTS), International crime victim survey (ICVS), data protection. 1.8
Human development
D.21 Living conditions and poverty statistics Poverty measurement (absolute and relative) indicators on income and consumption (e.g. poverty gap ratio, at-risk-of-poverty rate), living conditions (e.g. material deprivation, persons in households with low work intensity), social indicators measuring social exclusion / inclusion (indicator selection depending on the diversity of the country concerned and the differences in levels of development on a global scale), social indicators of development (indicators on employment and self-sufficiency, health, social cohesion including life satisfaction). 3.3.1
D.22 Population and migration statistics Demography (population registers and censuses, household characteristics and housing); vital statistics (births, deaths, marriages and divorces); population structures and growth; demographic projections; families and households (marriages, divorces and household size); migration, refugees and asylum seekers. 1.1
D.23 Education statistics Educational participation, illiteracy, educational institutions and systems, human and financial resources invested in education, lifelong learning, vocational training and adult learning, impact of education, assessments of student performance. Information on the achievement of the Millennium development goals (MDGs). 1.3
D.24 Health statistics These include life expectancy, health status, health and safety, health determinants (including lifestyle, nutrition, smoking, alcohol abuse), health resources and expenditure, health care systems, morbidity and mortality (including infant and child mortality), hospital admission, causes of illness and death, specific diseases (e.g. AIDS), disabilities, pharmaceutical consumption and sales, health personnel, remuneration of health professions, environmental health status, health inequality, health accounts. 1.4
D.25 Income and consumption statistics Monitoring of household income (e.g. salary, transfers) and consumption. Income / expenditure-based measures of poverty (e.g. gap), consumer protection, and household consumption patterns inform policy makers on social distribution of economic wealth of a country. 1.5
D.26 Sustainable development indicators Sustainable development strategies, World Commission on Environment and Development (‘Brundtland commission’), ‘Our common future’, UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), UN Conference on Environment and Development (‘Earth Summit’), Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, Poverty-Environment Initiative, poverty-environment linkages, policy performance indicators, regionally adapted frameworks, Guidelines and methodologies for indicators of sustainable development, DPSIR framework, UNECE/OECD/Eurostat Working Group on Statistics for Sustainable Development, CSD core indicators, headline indicators, ESALC SDI framework, Eurostat quality profiles framework, composite indicators. 3.3.6
Social cohesion and employment
D.27 Labour market statistics Data collection based on the International standard classification of occupations (ISCO) and the International classification of status in employment (ICSE). Labour force (economically active population) employment and unemployment (including rates), informal employment, labour conditions, job vacancies and job creation, health and safety at work, strikes and lockouts. 1.2
D.28 Social protection statistics Poverty, inequality, social cohesion, vertical and horizontal redistribution, vulnerability, social exclusion, decent work, social protection systems (insurance, assistance, transfers), social protection expenditure and performance reviews, Social expenditure database (SOCX), Social security inquiry, ESSPROS, MISSOC, Social risk management, functional classification of expenditures by schemes, micro-insurance, cash transfers, public works programmes, in-kind transfers, accounting records, administrative forms, household surveys, Household income and expenditure survey, Gini coefficient, Living standards measurement study (LSMS), Multiple indicator cluster survey, Demographic and health survey, Core welfare indicator questionnaire, public finance management, Poverty reduction strategy papers, Poverty reduction and growth facility, PEFA PFM (Performance measurement framework). 1.6
Direct access to
Other articles
Dedicated section
External links