Statistics on business dynamics
In its Letter of Appropriations for 2009, the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis (Growth Analysis) was commissioned to investigate and propose how publicly published statistics can be developed with the aim of improving knowledge about the dynamics of enterprise and the development of the business population over time.
Official Swedish statistics on business demographic events are currently produced as statistics on Newly-started Enterprises and statistics on Bankruptcies and Hearings on Composition without Bankruptcy. Within the scope of EUROSTAT’s Business Demography, statistics are published on business demography at a national level. In Sweden, Company and Workplace Dynamics (not a part of official Swedish statistics) are used to provide an overview of enterprise development.
The aim of statistics on business dynamics is to measure the shifts in the economy. In Swedish statistics, business dynamics can be measured based on either the number of new and discontinued business units or changes in employment constellations. There are difficulties in knowing what the basis of an event is and what events are of significance to the development of the economy. From a strictly economic perspective, it is probably of more interest to study employment dynamics than business dynamics. Business units are more transitory than individuals and a large part of the business population has limited operations and significance to economic activity. The possibility of producing such statistics already exists.
A problem with producing statistics on business dynamics based on employment statistics is the limited international comparability. In practice, such figures can only be compared with Denmark and Norway. Since the assignment expressly requests a high degree of international comparability in the statistics, Business Demography is the natural starting point. Data on Business Demography on a national level is already published by EUROSTAT. Statistics on Business Demography on a regional level are not produced. There is no direct reason to produce the statistics with methods adapted to international comparability if there are no regional statistics produced in the same way in other countries as well, which is not yet the case. Regionally comparable figures on a national level should be produced based on the needs of national actors rather than the compromises that are necessary to produce internationally comparable statistics.
One development route for the future is to improve the statistics on discontinued enterprises by continuously documenting mergers, fusions and divisions of enterprises. This is important in order to follow business units over time.