Statistics are usually compiled from a large set of individual observations.
In order to make conclusions, these observations need to be grouped or “classified”.
A classification assigns items to categories according to shared characteristics, and it provides a framework for the description and comparison of statistics.
Classification is an essential part of statistics, and standard classifications are essential instruments of Official Statistics. Classifications facilitate the accurate and systematic arrangement of data according to common properties so that the resulting statistics can be easily reproduced and compared over time as well as between different sources.
One of the key principles of the National Statistics Code of Practice and Protocol on Statistical Integration is the promotion and use of common statistical frames, definitions and classifications.
In the UK, 4 widely used standard classifications are:
the UK Standard Industrial Classification (UK SIC)
the Standard occupational classification (SOC)
the National Statistics Socio-economic classification (NS-SEC)
the National Statistics country classifications (NSCC)
Regular reviews of standard classifications are conducted to ensure that economic and social changes are reflected in the classification. Where relevant and possible, the classification will be in alliance with European and international standards.
Many other classifications are used throughout National Statistics; some have been developed by individual or groups of government departments while others have been taken directly from European or international use.