UNECE _ Using Administrative and Secondary Sources for Official Statistics - A Handbook of Principles and Practices (2011)

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Statistical organisations around the world are coming under increasing pressure to improve the efficiency of the statistical production process, and particularly to make savings in costs and staff resources. At the same time, there are growing political demands to reduce the burden placed on the respondents to statistical surveys. This is particularly the case where respondents are businesses, as many governments see reducing bureaucracy as a key measure to support and promote business development.

Given these pressures, statisticians are increasingly being forced to consider alternatives to the traditional survey approach as a way of gathering data. Perhaps the most obvious answer is to see if usable data already exist elsewhere. Many non-statistical organisations collect data in various forms, and although these data are rarely direct substitutes for those collected via statistical surveys, they often offer possibilities, sometimes through the combination of multiple sources, to replace, fully or partially, direct statistical data collection.
The degree of use of administrative sources in the statistical production process varies considerably from country to country, from those that have developed fully functioning register-based statistical systems, to those that are just starting to consider this approach.