Statistics Finland produces approximately 190 different sets of statistics. Most of the statistics are based at least indirectly on EU regulations and other obligations. Over 600 statistical releases of new data were made during 2011.
Last year, economy-wide material flow accounts were released as new statistics. Publishing of monthly data in addition to quarterly data was started from statistics on prices of dwellings. The compilation of quarterly financial accounts was started at Statistics Finland last year.
In statistics production, development has focused in recent years on processes in addition to production tools. The objective is an optimally efficient, uniform activity in different statistics.
Horizontally integrated systems are built in place of individual systems and their adoption will also demand renewals of workflows. The development is continuous and the projects are closely interwoven.
A key internal strategic project at Statistics Finland is the construction of an integrated information system for national accounts and the reorganisation of the associated activities. Most of the project was completed last year. As the new information system was adopted, the production of quarterly national accounts could be accelerated from 70 to 65 days.
"National accounts are a good example of continuous development. It is not just a technical and organisational change, but also that of content, because the description of the economy expands along with new EU regulations," says Ari Tyrkkö.
The review of the business statistics system is a very extensive renewal project of a statistical production system, which continued last year. The four-year project aims to review the whole production chain for business statistics: data collection, editing, analysis and dissemination.
"It is a question of a total revision of the Business Register and business statistics, aiming to enhance the coherence and functionality of statistics in the long term. In future, business statistics will be made increasingly in networks extending across conventional boundaries between our different statistical units and departments," says Hannele Orjala.
Other projects important for the standardisation of the statistical production process are connected with the development of editing and the adoption of the Variable and Classification Editors. In the editing project, practices were formed for detecting and processing errors as early as possible.
In globalisation, national structures are replaced by international ones when production, technology, labour force, ownership and income cross national boundaries. When the operating environment changes globally, the challenges to describing it grow both nationally and internationally.
The pressures for change have a vast effect on statistical work. The global nature of the economy is strongly reflected in national accounts and other economic statistics. Migration and the mobility of labour set challenges to social statistics.
The problems are shared by different countries, and Statistics Finland contributes actively to international collaboration. Statistics Finland has worked in the UN's group of experts on the globalisation handbook, which reflects on these problems.
"Ideas and services race from one country to another on the web. And money moves at the same time. It is a challenge to compile national statistics on global phenomena. For this reason, Statistics Finland has been involved in international work searching for common rules in the field of statistics," says Hilkka Vihavainen.
Statistics Finland's work on large enterprises also supports the statistical description of globalised enterprises. It aims to produce uniform procedures for the processing of data concerning large enterprises. In 2011, the work on large enterprises focused on the treatment of data on large enterprises and on co-operation with data suppliers. International co-operation with the Eurogroup Register on enterprise group data was also initiated last year.
The measurement of well-being, quality of life and sustainable development has been much discussed publicly and in many working groups in both Finland and internationally. Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, has several groups working on this issue. In Finland, work was concluded last year by an expert group chaired by the Prime Minister's Office on the measurement of well-being. Statistics Finland also took part in that work.
Statistics Finland already produces a wide variety of statistics on different dimensions of well-being, such as income, wealth and other areas of living conditions.
"In future, statistical data will be utilised more efficiently than before in developing descriptions of well-being," says Ari Tyrkkö. "Good examples of data sources are the survey measuring the value of domestic work, the Time Use Survey and the Household Budget Survey. Data about the household sector can also be derived from national accounts, and even the population census provides suitable information."
Approximately 95 per cent of the data Statistics Finland uses for its statistics production are collected by others – they come from registers, administrative files and other official sources. Although the majority of statistical data are obtained from administrative files and registers, direct data collections from enterprises, corporations and people are still needed.
Data collections are gradually becoming electronic. The data for the Business Register and for fast indicators of business trends are collected only electronically, and electronic data collecting for other business statistics is also progressing well. In the reviewed year, a study was made about collecting of personal data by a mixed mode method for the Finnish Travel Survey and the Consumer Survey.
"Reduction of the response burden is our constant aim. Statistics generate less than one per cent of the total administrative response burden society imposes on enterprises," says Hannele Orjala.
The aim of the project to review labour cost statistics that was started last year is to utilise register data so that direct data collection will end completely at some stage. An entirely register-based population census system was introduced in Finland years ago.
"Last year was an international census year. For the first time, a specific EU statistical regulation obliged all Member States to conduct the census in a harmonised manner. In Finland, the compiling was made easy by the fact that we have been producing register-based population census data annually for the past 20 years. Compared to a conventional census, we have thus saved tens of millions of euros in costs," says Jari Tarkoma.
In addition to regular statistics production, Statistics Finland has expertise in different types of data collection modes, from regular collections of statistical data to one-off data collections with diverse requirements. Most of the demanding, customer-funded data collection for the PIAAC survey was completed last year. The survey studies basic skills, such as literacy among the adult population. Collecting of data for the Household Budget Survey was also being designed last year.