General information about classifications

One of the priority areas of the state statistics of Belarus is currently the development of the national system of statistical classifications.

Classifications are one of the most important tools and standards allowing for the harmonization and identification of statistical data, ensuring systematization and unification of statistical information and grouping of statistical data into various breakdowns.

In recent years the state statistical bodies have moved from the use of local reference lists and selected all-union classifiers to the classifications having international, including European, analogues, which enables them to carry out state statistical surveys on the basis of standard classification groupings and make data comparable with international statistics.

The national system of statistical classifications is based on the nationwide classifications of technical, economic and social information of the Republic of Belarus. The system of state statistics employs nationwide classifications of economic activities, products, ownership types, administrative territorial units, government authorities, legal organisational forms, units of measure, and other.

A specific feature of the nationwide classifications of the Republic of Belarus is that they are applied practically in all spheres of the national economy management, including forecasting and monitoring of the socioeconomic development, state statistical activities, tax regulation, standardization and certification of products and services, banking, etc. That is why the use of nationwide classifications not only ensures systematization and grouping of economic statistical information, but also enables the data to be comparable at the national and international levels and contributes to the establishment of common information space of the government authorities of the country.

Belstat is currently implementing a set of measures aimed at the development and application in state statistical activity of a number of nationwide classifications analogous to international and interstate ones.

On the basis of harmonization with corresponding international classifications a nationwide classification of economic activities and a nationwide classification of products by activity applied both in statistical and economic practice have been developed. In external trade statistics, a uniform Commodity Nomenclature of External Economic Activities of the Eurasian Economic Union based on the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System is used.

There are a number of international classifications which are used in statistics directly, without the development of national analogues. These are the Classification of the Functions of Government, Classification of Individual Consumption According to Purpose, International Standard Classification of Education, International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.

Moreover, for coding units of measure, countries of the world and currencies the state statistical bodies use relevant nationwide classifications which are also compatible with the international standards.

Changes in international classifications, need for the study of new phenomena and processes, changes in the legislation result in the necessity to revise national statistical classifications. For this reason nationwide classifications are revised regularly, ensuring harmonization with international classifications and linkages with previous versions.

In the modern statistical practice a distinction is made between economic and social statistical classifications. Economic classifications comprise classifications of economic activities, products, commodities, i.e. those developed with a view to economic aspects of the society. Social classifications comprise classifications which a used to study the standard of living, education, i.e. classifications allowing for the study of social aspects of the society as, for example, the classifications of education, diseases and the like. 

In the classification theory, three levels of classifications are generally distinguished:

classifications of the international level used in all countries of the world;

classifications of the interstate level used by countries within a specific region (territorial as well as economic);

classifications of the state (national) level which a focused on a specific country.

To ensure additional options for data groupings and breakdowns while conducting state statistical surveys, compiling official statistical information, maintaining of the statistical register, databases and databanks, the state statistics authorities develop, approve, maintain and use statistical classifications.

The following terms and definitions are used in the classification system:

Object of classification – an element (unit) of a classified set.

Classification grouping – a subset of objects obtained as a result of division of a set of objects into subsets according to their similarity or difference in line with the accepted methods.

Classification – a division of a set of objects into subsets according to their similarity or difference in line with the accepted methods. The main methods of classification are hierarchical and facet methods.

Classification characteristic a property or an attribute of an object according to which it is classified.

Hierarchical method of classification – a method of classification where a defined set of objects is successively divided into subordinate subsets, that is according to a certain selected attribute (characteristic of division) a set of objects is first broken down into large groupings, and then each of these groupings is split into a number of subordinate groupings according to another characteristic, specifying the object of classification.

Facet method of classification – a method of classification where a defined set of objects is successively divided into subsets independently, according to various characteristics of classification.

A classification is a regulatory document on standards, representing a systematized set of names and codes of classification groupings and/ or classification objects.

An interstate classification is a classification adopted by the Interstate Council on Standards, Metrology and Certification or by the Interstate Statistical Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States and applied by the interested CIS countries.   

An international (regional) classification is a classification adopted by a relevant international (regional) organisation and applied by the interested countries of the world.

A nationwide classification of the Republic of Belarus is a classification approved by the State Committee for Standards (Gosstandart) or other authorized government agency and mandatory for the use by government agencies and organizations of the Republic of Belarus for the cross-sectoral (interagency) information exchange.

A correspondence table (recoding table) is a table of correspondence of codes of the same classification groupings or objects from different classifications or from different versions of the same classification.

A statistical classification is a systematised list of values of a specific characteristic of the objects of state statistical surveys.


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