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What is a Standard Classification?

According to the OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms, ‘Standard classifications are those that follow prescribed rules and are generally recommended and accepted. They aim to ensure that information is classified consistently regardless of the collection, source, point of time etc’.

Ideally, standard classifications contain categories that are mutually exclusive and exhaustive i.e. any given response or datum can be matched to one category only and every possibility is anticipated and catered for.

CSO Standardisation Process

While many international standards exist, it is often necessary for individual National Statistical Institutes to adapt or modify these in order to cater for the needs of their own country or region. In Ireland, within the Central Statistics Office, a standard classification is one that has been approved as the official classification to be used for collecting, processing and outputting data on a particular topic. These standards are developed following extensive research of the topic in close consultation with stakeholders.

Benefits of Standard Classifications
  • Data Integration:
    The use of statistical standards allows the integration of data from a variety of sources and between different periods of time.
  • Improved Survey Efficiency:
    Using standard classifications reduces the resources and time requirements associated with many aspects of survey development and maintenance. They assist in planning new survey developments and in reviews of existing surveys. Once a standard exists it can be used in new surveys, thus eliminating the need to create afresh the conceptual definitions, code-files and coding rules that comprise the standard.
  • Meeting User Requirements:
    Standard classifications are created in close consultation with stakeholders who are involved in developing statistical surveys. This ensures that classifications used to collect data in surveys will meet users’ needs.
  • Data Comparability:
    Standard classifications ensure that data is comparable over time and between different surveys, as they can be used to provide a link between different datasets.
  • Efficient Use of Resources:
    The use of standard code structures simplifies data processing and means only one version of the code numbers needs to be stored. Greater use of standard classifications increases and thus enriches the data produced by the Office.
  • More Reliable Statistics:
    The use of standard classifications gives reason for increased confidence in the reliability of statistics
CSO Standard Classifications

There are eighteen CSO standard classifications as follows: