Associations are no longer ghosts

The other data presented in the satellite account mostly relates to the traditional variables of the national accounts: trade and non-trade production, composition of the added value, number of hours served, details of production and resources costs (sales, subsidies, donations), taxation, investments, etc.

The tables are linked to the national accounts. This allows the statistics relating to associations to be transferred into the framework of all the economic statistics and to assess the contribution of associations to the gross domestic profit (5 %) or employment (10.5 % in number of salaried workers, though this last result would be nearer 15 % if the satellite account included schools organised as associations), to measure the significance of the financing of associations in public administration budgets, and to envisage comparisons within the same area between associations and other service providers, whether they are public or private.

A tool for policy leaders

One of the contributions the account has made is to highlight the underestimation of the production of associations.
Another concerns the help the account’s tables can offer to structure certain economic and social policy debates. It offers a macroeconomic vision of the role that associations play in satisfying certain needs expressed by society, and describes their costs and resources by using the familiar framework of the national accounts. Decision-makers may find elements here that are likely to fuel economic and social policy debates (budgetary data, employment data, production indicators, etc.). However, this contribution must be qualified: insofar as many of the authorities competences are now assigned at decentralised levels of authority, the national data collected in the satellite account should be sufficiently detailed in the future in order to clarify decentralised decision-making.

While it has become possible to compare the market share and cost structures of the various types of service providers (public or private profit-making associations) in a certain area of activity (for instance, child care), the satellite account does not however resolve the issue of assessing the volume (and quality) of a non-trade production (in part). As regards the cost/profit analysis of the various types of service providers, additional data on the quality of the services, for instance, must be gathered by the research teams who intend to use this account for this purpose. The research currently carried out by the Social Economy Centre at ULg is focusing on elaborating these types of measures. They also aim to improve the understanding of the account’s results and to fine tune the level of detail of certain information issued by the satellite account.

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