14 October 2019

New visibility for the global Third Sector and Social Economy: a major statistical breakthrough

Capping a three-year process, the United Nations has released a new statistical guidance document for nations to use to generate solid data on the world’s third, or social economy, sector—the TSE Sector.

Unknown by most observers, this sector—embracing non-profit institutions, public-benefit oriented cooperatives and mutuals, social enterprises, philanthropy, and volunteer work—makes up
the third largest workforce of any industry in Western Europe and the US.

In the developing world as well, these entities, and the volunteer effort they motivate, are widely regarded as crucial to the success of the 2030 Development Agenda. To date, however, reliable data on these institutions and volunteer activities have been missing or obscured in official international statistical systems. The just-released United Nations Satellite Account on Nonprofit and Related Institutions and Volunteer Work (UN TSE Sector Handbook) now promises to remedy this problem and bring this TSE sector into systematic empirical view by equipping statistical  agencies with comprehensive methodological guidance on its measurement.

This new Handbook, produced in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, revises an earlier UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National
Accounts and extends its coverage to all entities and activities that exhibit three key attributes:

  • They are private, i.e. not controlled by the state
  • They are primarily oriented to public benefit purposes, rather than the pursuit of private profit
  • They embody a significant element of free choice

Download the new UN TSE Sector Handbook: bit.ly/TSE-Handbook

Next steps

Workshops on the implementation of the new Handbook for TSE leaders and statistical officials are being organised by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies.
For further information, please contact the Center at ccss@jhu.edu.