1. Introduction

The European Action Plan for the Social Economy (12/09/2021) by the European Commission sets as one of its key objectives the improvement of the recognition of the Social Economy and its potential. To achieve this, it proposes to increase the visibility of the Social Economy through the collection of adequate data and statistics, an objective that the Action Plan considers "fundamental for its recognition and development." The Plan itself highlights that "existing data on the Social Economy are often scarce, incomplete, and difficult to compare."

This unsatisfactory statistical reality at the European level is also recognizable in the case of Spain, even though there is available labour information for some market-producing Social Economy enterprises on the official websites of the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy.

Policies to promote the Social Economy require a deepening in both quantitative and qualitative terms of the available official statistics. It is very complex, and probably imprecise, to try to promote an economic activity about which only the approximate relative importance in each context, its evolution over time, or the factors influencing that evolution, among other considerations, are known.

Quantifying a concept or a social sector involves a preliminary exercise of reflection on what is intended to be measured. It implies an enumeration of the facets or characteristics of what is intended to be quantified, as well as the choice of a standardized method that enables measurement with certain guarantees and quality. In economic science, this approach is of special relevance. Nowadays, it is indisputable that the implementation of public policies requires information about the magnitudes that are intended to be affected in some way.

The Social Economy, composed of various types of entities, both market and non-market, each with its own legal regulations, needs a comprehensive statistical framework that is official, integral, reliable, regular, updated, and comparable with other economic activities: from public ones, to self-employment, small and medium enterprises, and large companies. Only by having such a statistical framework is it possible to thoroughly evaluate the contributions of the Social Economy to well-being, wealth, income, employment, gender equality, equitable income distribution, care for the most disadvantaged, its contribution to combating social exclusion, sustainable development objectives, etc.; and only with an adequate provision of performance indicators is it possible to accurately evaluate the social costs and benefits of Social Economy promotion policies.

Currently, the available information about the Social Economy is, to some extent, dispersed. We find information hosted on official websites such as the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy, in publications like the Ministry’s Statistical Yearbook and in the main series section, among others, in works by specialists and researchers from various institutions, in publications, books, and articles developed by CIRIEC Spain and CIRIEC International, on the website of the Spanish Business Confederation of the Social Economy (CEPES), or on singular entities’ websites, in reports and articles not digitized or available online, and so on.

One of the functions of CIRIECSTAT is to develop an activity that gathers available statistical information from the different explored sources, whether digitized or not, with the objective that the user of Social Economy statistics, regardless of their academic or professional profile, can use this website as the main source for obtaining all relevant information.

2. Structure of the statistical website

The structure of CIRIECSTAT is distinguished by four major areas: project, data, series and publications, as outlined in the website's header, in addition to the dissemination of news and the latest Social Economy data in the "Home" section.

2.1. Project

Under the title "Project", there is an institutional presentation that details and delves into the necessity of having a Social Economy statistical website. This section also includes the team that has developed CIRIECSTAT, the methodology, and a glossary of concepts. The glossary aims to define the main concepts that will be used in this statistical website.

2.2. Data

The "Data" area is divided into two major sets: Market Social Economy (comprised of Social Economy market products whose main destination is sale in the market at economically significant prices, meaning sales cover at least 50% of production costs) and Non-Market Social Economy (non-profit Social Economy entities whose production is supplied to households free of charge or at economically insignificant prices, so that if sales cover less than 50% of production costs, the institutional unit is classified in the ISFLSH sector or the Public Administration sector).

Thus, the scope of observation of the statistical website is formed by the different agents that make up the Social Economy, in accordance with Law 5/2011 of March 29 on Social Economy, the European Commission's European Action Plan for the Social Economy, the European Economic and Social Committee, the representative European organization of the Social Economy, Social Economy Europe (SEE), and the scientific literature. All this without prejudice to giving preferential attention to the companies and entities of the Social Economy included in the attached table, which constitutes the most unequivocal core of the Social Economy.

2.2.1. Market Social Economy

The entities within the Market Social Economy from which statistical information will initially be collected are as follows: cooperatives, labour societies, mutual benefit societies, special employment centres, insertion companies, agricultural transformation societies, and fishermen's guilds. The statistical information of these entities is tabulated based on a series of classification variables, such as:

a) Entity typology: follows the classification of the number of entities, number of members, number of workers, and turnover/sales volume.
b) Geographic area: distinguishes between the different Spanish autonomous communities.
c) Time period: aims to obtain the most current and extensive time series.

2.2.2. on-Market Social Economy

The entities within the Non-Market Social Economy that appear in CIRIECSTAT include social action associations, other associations, social action foundations, other foundations, and the unique entities of the ONCE Social Group, Spanish Cruz Roja, and CARITAS Diocesana. The statistical information of these entities is tabulated based on a series of classification variables, such as:

a) Activity typology: culture and recreation, education and research, health, social services, environmental protection and animal welfare, development and housing, civics, advocacy and politics, philanthropy and volunteer promotion, international, religion, professional, business and workers' associations, and unclassified activities.
b) Entity typology: follows the classification of the number of entities, number of members, number of workers, number of volunteers, and turnover/sales volume.
c) Geographic area: distinguishes between the different Spanish autonomous communities.
d) Time period: aims to obtain the most current and extensive time series.

Non-financial corporations (S11)
• Cooperatives (workers, agri-food, consumers, education, transport, housing, healthcare, social, etc.)
• Special Disabilities Employment Centres, Labour insertion companies and other social enterprises
• Labour Societies
• Other association-based enterprises
• Other private market producers (some associations and other legal persons)
• Non-profit institutions serving to social economy non-financial entities
• Non-financial corporations controlled by the SE entities
Financial corporations (S12)
• Credit cooperatives
• Mutual insurance companies* and mutual benefit societies
• Insurance cooperatives
• Non-profit institutions serving social economy non-financial entities
Public Authorities (S13)
Households (S14)**
• Non-profit institutions serving households of minor importance
Non-profit institutions serving households (S15)
• Social action associations***
• Social action foundations***
• Other non-profit organisations serving households (cultural, sports, etc.)

(*) The managing entities of the Social Security systems and, in general, the compulsory affiliation mutual societies and those controlled by companies that do not belong to the social economy are excluded from the scope of observation and analysis.
(**) The Households sector (S14) includes individual enterprises and partnerships without legal personality, which are market producers and do not belong to the social economy. But it also includes small non-profit entities that are non-market producers.
(***) Non-profit non-market producer entities of a private nature, with voluntary membership and participation and strategic and operational autonomy, whose purpose is to achieve social welfare objectives through the supply or provision of social or preferential goods and services, free of charge or at economically insignificant prices, to vulnerable, socially excluded persons or groups of persons or persons at risk of exclusion. In addition, non-profit organisations for development cooperation and environmental protection. These entities make up the Third Social Action Sector, which is obviously an integral part of the SE.

2.3. Series

The SERIES section (created in April 2024) represents a qualitative and quantitative leap by presenting a new way to visualize statistical data. The implementation of this new interactive tool on the website, based on a relational database, allows for customized queries about cooperatives and labour societies and the generation of specific data sets that can be downloaded in the desired format.

For cooperatives, 12 series have been loaded by Autonomous Communities (CCAA) and another 12 by provinces, disaggregated by 7 different dimensions (contribution regime, employment and contribution centres, activity division -according to CNAE-, activity sector, type of cooperative, gender, and types of initial members). Most of the series are available for the period 1999-2019, resulting in a total of 41,740 data points by CCAA and 100,204 data points by provinces.

In the case of labour societies, 10 series have been loaded, both by CCAA and provinces, disaggregated according to the same dimensions and for the same period, generating 18,300 data points by CCAA and 46,020 data points by provinces. In total, through the new CIRIECSTAT Series section, users can interact with more than 200,000 data points.

2.4. Publications

In the fourth area, "Publications", studies conducted by CIRIEC-Spain, studies on the Social Economy conducted by other national entities, and studies on the Social Economy conducted by international institutions are collected. This area, in addition to gathering studies currently available on the Internet, also collects studies that are only available in paper form and have been scanned to be deposited in CIRIECSTAT.

3. Sources of information

The most relevant and numerous sources of information in CIRIECSTAT are official. Thus, the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy becomes a primary source of information, even though in recent years it has stopped updating some statistical information series that it traditionally prepared and updated, such as those related to workers.

Other official sources of great relevance for the Social Economy are those from the State Tax Administration Agency and the Economic Departments of the various autonomous communities.
Nevertheless, statistical data from reputable entities related to the Social Economy are also included in CIRIECSTAT.

The complete list of information sources that feed CIRIECSTAT is as follows:

  • Ministry of Labor and Social Economy
  • Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration
  • Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Ministry of Interior
  • Official departments: State Tax Administration Agency, Institute of Fiscal Studies, State Public Employment Service
  • Provincial Councils of Euskadi and Navarra
  • Regional governments
  • National Statistics Institute
  • Bank of Spain
  • Registers and databases of representative Social Economy entities, CEPES and its associated entities, National Union of Credit Cooperatives, third sector platforms, foundation associations
  • Reports, balance sheets, and income statements of companies, business groups, unique entities, and associative-based companies
  • Documentation Centre (CIDEC) of the University Institute of Social Economy, Cooperativism, and Entrepreneurship (IUDESCOOP) of the University of Valencia and other institutes and university centres of the ENUIES Network
  • Fieldwork conducted by CIRIECSTAT

4. Period and frequency of the data

The period that CIRIECSTAT aims to cover is as broad as possible, drawing not only on data published on the Internet but also on those that were available at some point and later withdrawn.

Most of the statistical information contained in CIRIECSTAT is updated annually, although some indicators are updated quarterly.

Most of the series cover a long-term period, although other series cover the most recent period.

The statistics are structural and have a minimum update frequency of once a year.

The magnitudes of the monetary variables in the database are offered in current euros (euros of each year).
The data is provided in Excel or PDF format.

5. Geographical coverage

The data is territorialized referring to the national total, and when the source allows, it is also provided by autonomous communities and provinces.