Project: Opportunities and challenges of statistics on SSE

In June 2019, UNTFSSE Knowledge Hub commenced a 1.5 year project which aims to contribute to knowledge diffusion and transfer about robust methodologies and high-quality approaches for data collection, analysis and interpretation of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) statistics. Although policymakers increasingly pay attention to SSE organizations and enterprises (SSEOEs), in particular, their potentials to address social, economic and environmental problems in alternative ways, the lack of statistical information about the weight, size and scope of SSEOEs in their own territory often prevents them from establishing sustainable and inclusive policies for the development of SSE. Scarcity of systematic data and statistics on SSE often lead to failure in capturing the diverse contributions of SSE actors and the degree of impacts on sustainable goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The project aims to enrich the discussions on statistics on SSE within and beyond the UN system; and provide policymakers with information on current statistics on SSE and recommendations for production of better statistics on SSE.

The research project will:

  • provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of statistics on SSE in different parts of the world, with a focus on the methodologies and available data sets;
  • explore diverse approaches to generate statistics on SSE;
  • explain how the statistics on SSE may be better presented; and
  • identify innovative approaches to measure the impact of SSE on sustainable development.

Key research concerns and questions

  • Mapping of the current statistics on SSE available: In a context where systematic data on SSE are scarce and where definitions and indicators vary, numbers often fail to capture the diversity contributions of SSE actors and their impacts on various dimensions of sustainable development. Although statistics on SSE are produced in many countries, reliable and comparable statistics on SSE are still missing in most countries. Further, the information on the current landscape of the SSE statistics are disperse and anecdotal. By taking the stock of how SSE is presently being measured, the project will map countries and produce statistics on SSE and their methodologies.
  • Different methods of producing SSE statistics: Currently generated statistics on SSE such as those of EU, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, South Africa and Thailand are based on different methodological approaches. And as the case of European Union indicates, new approaches to producing statistics are still emerging in different parts of the world. Specific methodologies taken by national or regional organizations, in particular with specific foci on different subsets of SSE and with their own definitions of SSE, both reflect and shape the institutional dynamics through which SSE evolves. What are the key differences between major methods and approaches employed to produce statistics on SSE and how would they affect SSEOEs? What are the pros and cons of the various approaches? What new approaches are emerging and what are their features?
  • Policies and institutions for statistics on SSE: The origin of the word statistics, “statisticum”, means concerning the state and accordingly this reveals that, research and practice on statistics lie between science and governance. In this line, production of statistics on SSE relate to broader concerns about national accounting and development of SSE. Legitimacy of data or statistics is often not from scientific rigor but from the capacity to be a basis for decision-making in a wide range of political, economic, social and environmental projects. Policies and institutions for statistics on SSE should be carefully designed and implemented taking into consideration various dimensions of political economy and power relations. What policies and institutions are needed to produce statistics with scientific rigorousness and high capacity to be a basis for decision-making in sustainable development?
  • Future research on statistics: More reliable and comparable statistics are needed more than ever when policymakers are increasingly paying attention to the potentials of SSE in contributing to achieving the SDGs. Building on recent research on statistics on SSE, all stakeholders need to address all gaps and blind spots in statistics on SSE. What topics and issues need to be examined further to support the policy efforts to produce better statistics on SSE?


The principal beneficiaries of this project are:

  • policymakers;
  • national statistical agencies;
  • SSE sector apex organizations.

Key outputs

Expert Workshop (2019) – See all information related to the November 4th 2019 Workshop on this page.

Knowledge Hub working papers (2020)

  • WP 1: Current state of practices in producing statistics on SSE, including a list of approaches to defining and counting SSE, pros and cons about approaches.
  • WP 2: Mapping of SSE mappings and examples of current SSE data taken from desktop research (e.g. CIRIEC’s work on SSE in the EU countries, World coop monitor, Mapping of social enterprises in Europe).
  • WP 3: Experts’ recommendations to policymakers about producing statistics on SSE and about future research.

Expert Group Meeting (2020)

Engagement with the Project

Please contact Ilcheong Yi (UNRISD), the project’s internal coordinator or Marie J. Bouchard (CIRIEC International), the project’s external coordinator.


This project is a research initiative of the SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs, funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea (represented by Statistics Korea) and implemented by UNRISD as the implementing organization of the UNTFSSE Knowledge Hub. The project team acknowledges the support of CIRIEC International for the project.