United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was established in 1947 to encourage economic cooperation among its member states. The organisation provides a forum for communication among states; brokers international legal instruments addressing trade, transport and the environment; and supplies statistics and economic and environmental analysis. It is one of five regional commissions under the administrative direction of United Nations headquarters. It has 56 member states. In addition to European countries, it includes the United States, Canada, Israel and the Central Asian republics.
The UNECE Statistical Database is the main, general statistical database maintained by the UNECE. It provides detailed statistical information about macroeconomics and gender and social statistics on countries in Europe, North America and Central Asia.
UNECE Statistical Database
Excel, TXT, CSV, dBase, Lotus, PC-AXIS, RN, On-screen tables
Data types and sources
Most of the data are based on official registers, national accounts and surveys, collected from national statistical offices and international sources.
Data are organized under several subject areas: Country Overviews, Economic statistics, Forestry Statistics, Gender statistics, Transport statistics, Millennium Development Goals, and Migration Data.
All the 56 member countries are covered, but to varying degrees.
Time coverage and updates
Most series in the UNECE Statistical Database are available on an annual – and sometimes also quarterly and monthly – basis from 1990 onwards. In some cases data are also available for selected years from 1980.
For each subtopic, metadata is easily accessible online. It holds information about last updates, as well as footnotes about special circumstances in specific countries or time periods and a Glossary of terms provides definitions of many concepts used in the database. UNECE puts emphasis on metadata as a vital component of any statistical system, and runs a task force, which under governance of the Conference of European Statisticians organises information about statistical metadata into a Common Metadata Framework.
Access conditions and cost
Available free of charge. No registration is needed, but is offered as an option for users who want to store their searches and retrieve data later.
The database is fairly easy to use. By browsing the site, the user will find lists of topics and subtopics, and may download data for selected time periods and countries. There is no search function, nor an overview of which variables are actually included in each subtopic. Within each topic there are several tables that can be individually designed by users by selecting countries, years, measures and indicators.
Data formats in the database include Excel, TXT, CSV, dBase, Lotus, PC-AXIS and PRN. Data can also be viewed as on-screen tables.
Comparability and data quality
A central aim of the UNECE Statistical Database is, according to the UNECE, to facilitate international comparisons. Data on many indicators are presented within a common framework, in standardised tables ready for analysis. Some problems of comparability remain, however, and a standardised framework does not always imply that the data are truly comparable. Comparability across countries is not always perfect and may be affected by differences in data collection, statistical methods and definitions. The table on unemployment rates, for example, presents statistics gathered from labour force surveys and administrative records together, even though the two methods of data collection do not provide comparable data. Definitions and references to the primary sources are easily accessible online, though the documentation is not very detailed.