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The Economic Statistics Program of the United Nations Statistical Division includes: Economic and Social Statistical Classification, Environmental Accounting, Industry Statistics, National Accounts, and Trade Statistics. The Knowledge Base on Economic Statistics website provides the methods and country practices for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of economic statistics and macroeconomic standards.  Downloadable publications like Global Consultations on Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics (PDF) provide case studies and other practical materials related to the application economic statistics.

UNSD. "Industry Statistics."
The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) gathers and supplies statistical information on the production of industrial commodities primarily through national statistical offices. The data is categorized according to the UN List of Industrial Products and published in three major publications: the Industrial Commodity Statistics Yearbook; the United Nations Statistics Yearbook; the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics.

Source and Data: Industrial Commodity Statistics and General Industrial Statistics
Standards and Methods: International Recommendations for Industrial Statistics (IRIS) 2008 (PDF)
Knowledge sharing: Country practices for the collection and calculation of Index of Industrial Production (PDF)

FAOSTAT provides time-series and cross sectional data relating to food and agriculture for some 200 countries. 

According to the FAO, the CountrySTAT "supports analysis, informed policy-making and monitoring with the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger." CountrySTAT provides nations with databases, graphs, maps, and statistics to support policy-makers and analysts.

UNSD. " Environmental-Economic Accounting."
Focuses its activities on the methodology, the coordination of the activities in the development and standardization of methodologies and active collaboration to expand existing and new projects with other international organizations, countries, NGO's and academia.

System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).
Standards and Methods: Handbook of National Accounting: Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting 2003 (PDF) and International Recommendations for Water Statistics (IRWS) (PDF)

International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS)
Source and Data: Database
Standards and Methods: Concepts and Methods and National Practices
Knowledge sharing: International Cooperation and Workshops (IMTS)

Statistics Trade in Services Section (SITS)
Source and Data: UN Service Trade
Standards and Methods:  Manual on Statistics on International Trade in Services 2010 (PDF)
Knowledge sharing: International cooperation and workshops click here

Tourism Statistics
Source and Data: International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics 2008 (PDF)
Standards and Methods: Concepts and Methods and National Practices
Knowledge sharing: International cooperation and workshops click here

UNSD. "National Accounts."
Contributes to the international coordinated development and updating of the System of National Accounts (SNA); and undertakes methodological research on issues on the research agenda of the SNA in collaboration with the Intersecretariat Working Group on National Accounts (ISWGNA). Collects and disseminates annual national accounts statistics from countries.



The Demographic and Social Statistics Program of the United Nations Statistical Division covers the following categories in Demographic and Social Concerns: social security and welfare, economic activity, allocation of time and time use, learning, and educations, size and structure of the population, health, distribution of income.

Source and Data: 2010 Worlds Population and Housing Census Programme and Social and Demographic Surveys
Standards and Methods: Principles and Recommendations (PDF) and Guidelines and Manuals (PDF) Knowledge Sharing: Census Knowledge Base



Environmental Statistics
The Environmental Statistics Section of the United Nations is responsible for publishing "the latest research and developments in ecological economics and ecological statistics," according to the UNSD. In addition, the Environmental Statistics section aids national statistical offices in the data collection, technical support, and development of methodologies.

Source and Data: Report to the 34th session of the Statistical Commission on environment statistics Database
Standards and Methods: A Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics, Concepts and Methods of Environment Statistics: Human Settlements Statistics? A Technical Report
Knowledge sharing: Technical cooperation through international/regional/sub-regional training workshops and projects click here

Collection and dissemination of international energy statistics, including basic data as well as aggregated tables, energy balances and electricity profiles; methodological work; technical co-operation and coordination

Source and Data: Energy Statistics Yearbook and Energy Balances and Electricity Profiles
Standards and Methods: Guiding principles for the preparation of IRES
Knowledge Sharing: Meeting and Workshops


UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is a source for internationally comparable statistics on education, science and technology, culture, and communication for more than 200 countries and territories.

The UIS database provides statistics on all education levels and addresses key policy issues such as gender, teachers, and finances. 

The UIS is responsible for monitoring international literacy targets associated with Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Literacy statistics are considered the standard for benchmarking progress globally and are featured in diverse reports, such as the EFA Global Monitoring Report, the World Development Indicators and the Human Development Report.

Science and Technology
UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) partners with statistical organizations, such as Eurostat, Red Iberoamericana de Indicadores de Ciencia y Tecnología (RICYT), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to collect global perspectives on science and technology.

The UIS framework for cultural statistics was designed to help countries to create their own surveys to track the flows of their cultural goods and services. 

The UIS media survey provides a global perspective on print, broadcast, and digital media. The Institute has also developed a new survey to monitor trends in the educational use of information and communication technologies (ICT). 
Their work in this field entails close collaboration with UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector, experts, national statisticians and other statistical agencies. 


Online multimedia

Cheung, Paul, "The Gateway to Global Statistics." You Tube video, posted by the United Nations Statistics on Dec. 21 2010.
The video features Paul Cheung, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division, and the Division's staff. The video provides an overview of the functions, goals, structure, and products of the UNSD. (Link)

UN Statistics Channel on YouTube
This YouTube channel features dozens of videos on various aspects of UN statistics, such as measuring GDP and development indicators.

For visualizations and tables of UN statistics, see gapminder.org .

Audio Interviews: Understanding United Nations Statistics

Sudhir Anand (Research Director of Global Equity Initiative at the Harvard University), interviewed by Emma Carron and Elliott Rosenbaum, April 15, 2011, Cambridge, MA.

The use of econometric and regression analysis in research papers; the importance of correctly understanding predictors; and the use of multiple sources in cross-county analysis.

Stefan Schweinfest (Assistant Director at United Nations Statistical Division) interviewed by Emma Carron, April 20, 2011, Cambridge, MA.

Setting standards and guidelines in data collection and dissemination.

Stefan Schweinfest (Assistant Director at United Nations Statistical Division) interviewed by Emma Carron, April 20, 2011, Cambridge, MA.

Stefan Schweinfest explains the agencies that are responsible for collecting and reporting the data to the United Nations.



Designing Household Survey Samples: Practical Guidelines, Series: F, No.98

International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Supplement to the Compilers Manual, Series: F, No.87/Add.1

Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008, Series: F, No.80/Rev.1

Handbook on Geospatial Infrastructure in Support of Census Activities, Series: F, No.103

International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics 2008, Series: M, No.83/Rev.1

International Recommendations for Industrial Statistics 2008, Series: M, No.90

Handbook on Population and Housing Census Editing, Series: F, No.82/Rev. 1

Measuring the Economically Active in Population Censuses: A Handbook, Series: F, No.102

Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008, Series: F, No.80/Rev.1

2008 International Trade Statistics Yearbook, Vol. Vol and I. II, Series: G, No.57
Data are provided for a ten-year period and for approximately 200 countries and territories.

Demographic Yearbook 2008, Series: R, No.39
The yearbook provides material on demographics, including population size and distribution, fertility, general mortality, and divorce.

National Accounts Statistics: Main Aggregates and Detailed Tables, 2008 Part I, Part II, Part III and IV, Series: X, No.43
This supplies statistics on national accounts aggregates and variables including GDP, national income, saving, household and government consumption expenditure, exports and imports.

Monthly Bulletin of Statistics
It contains 55 tables with over 100 indicators, of monthly, quarterly and annual data on economic trends and developments, including population, industrial production indices, price indices, employment and earnings, energy, manufacturing, transport, construction, international merchandise trade, finance and national accounts.

WHO Statistics
This presents the most recent health statistics for the WHO's 193 member states.

For more publications by the United Nations Statistics Division, click here.

The World Bank has an enormous amount of data on development which has been made available through the World Bank's Data Catalog. Popular datasets include the World Development Indicators and the Microdata Library.



For a selection of academic works on the historical development of statistics, see:

Anders Hald, A History of Mathematical Statistics from 1750 to 1930 (Wiley, 1998).

Morten Jerven, Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013).

Timothy Mitchell, "Fixing the Economy," Cultural Studies 12 (1998): 82-101.

Stephen Stigler, The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty before 1900 (Harvard University Press, 1986).

Stephen Stigler, Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods (Harvard University Press, 1999).

Adam Tooze, "Imagining National Economies: National and International Economic Statistics, 1900-1950," in Geoffrey Cubitt, ed., Imagining Nations (Manchester University Press; St. Martin's, 1998).

Adam Tooze, Statistics and the German State, 1900-1945: The Making of Modern Economic Knowledge (Cambridge University Press, 2001).