INSEE is the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies. It collects and publishes information on the French economy
Economy of France
France is the world's fifth largest economy by nominal figures and the ninth largest economy by PPP figures. It is the second largest economy in Europe in nominal figures and third largest economy in Europe in PPP figures...

 and society, carrying out the periodic national census. Located in Paris, it is the French branch of Eurostat
Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

, European Statistical System. The INSEE was created in 1946 as a successor to the National Statistics Service (SNS) created under Vichy during World War II.


INSEE is responsible for the production and analysis of official statistics in France. Its best known responsibilities include:
  • Organizing and publishing the national census
  • Producing various indices – which are widely recognised as being of excellent quality – including an inflation index used for determining the rates of rents and the costs associated with construction.
  • Eurostat uses INSEE statistics in combination with those of other national statistical agencies to compile comparable statistics for the EU as a whole. It is also widely recognized as representing France on international questions of statistics.


INSEE is the responsibility of MINEFE, the French Ministry of Finance. The current director is Jean-Philippe Cotis. However, Eurostat considers INSEE as an independent body, although its independence is not written in the law.

Teaching and research

Research and teaching for INSEE is undertake by GENES, or Group of the National Schools of the Economy and Statistics (French: Groupe des Écoles Nationales d'Économie et Statistique) which includes:
  • ENSAE (L'École nationale de la statistique et de l'administration économique), a grande école which trains INSEE administrators and engineers specialized in statistics, the economy, and finance.
  • ENSAI, (L'École nationale de la statistique et de l'analyse de l'information), an engineering school.

Codes and numbering system

INSEE gives numerical indexing codes (French: les Codes INSEE) to various entities in France:
  • INSEE codes (known as COG) are given to various administrative units, notably the French communes (they do not coincide with postcodes
    Postal code
    A postal code is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail. Once postal codes were introduced, other applications became possible.In February 2005, 117 of the 190 member countries of the Universal Postal Union had postal code systems...

    ). The 'complete' code has 8 digits and 3 spaces within, but there is a popular 'simplified' code with 5 digits and no space within:
    • 2 digits (département) and 3 digits (commune) for the 96 départements of Metropolitan France
      Metropolitan France
      Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

    • 3 digits (département or collectivity) and 2 digits (commune) for the Overseas departments, Overseas Territorial Collectivities and Overseas Countries and Territories. See also: :fr:Code INSEE#Code communal.

  • INSEE numbers (13 digits + a two-digit key) are national identification number
    National identification number
    A national identification number, national identity number, or national insurance number is used by the governments of many countries as a means of tracking their citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents for the purposes of work, taxation, government benefits, health care, and other...

    s given to people. The format is as follows: syymmlllllooo kk, where
    • s is 1 for a male, 2 for a female for a permanent number; it is 7 for a male, 8 for a female for a temporary number,
    • yy are the last two digits of the year of birth,
    • mm is the month of birth or a number above 20 if the birthdate is unknown
    • lllll is the COG for the location of birth,
    • ooo is an order number to distinguish people being born at the same place in the same year and month.
    • 'kk' is the "control key", equal to 97-(the rest of the number modulo
      Modular arithmetic
      In mathematics, modular arithmetic is a system of arithmetic for integers, where numbers "wrap around" after they reach a certain value—the modulus....

      There are exceptions for people in particular situations.
  • SIREN codes are given to businesses and nonprofit associations
    Voluntary association
    A voluntary association or union is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form a body to accomplish a purpose.Strictly speaking, in many jurisdictions no formalities are necessary to start an association...

    , SIRET codes to their establishments and facilities.

Statistics in France before INSEE

INSEE was preceded by several related statistical agencies in France. In 1833, the Statistics Bureau (French: Bureau de la statistique) was created by Adolphe Thiers
Adolphe Thiers
Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Thiers was a French politician and historian. was a prime minister under King Louis-Philippe of France. Following the overthrow of the Second Empire he again came to prominence as the French leader who suppressed the revolutionary Paris Commune of 1871...

. In 1840 it was renamed SGF or General Statistics of France.

Under the direction of Lucien March, the SGF expanded its activities. It began an investigation of consumption habits in 1907, following with periodic investigations on retail prices in 1911.

In 1920 Alfred Sauvy
Alfred Sauvy
Alfred Sauvy was a demographer, anthropologist and historian of the French economy. Sauvy coined the term Third World in reference to countries that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War...

 introduced competitive entrance exams for SGF recruitment. However, it was René Carmille
René Carmille
René Carmille was a punched card expert and comptroller general of the French Army in the early 20th century. In World War II he was a double agent for the French Resistance and part of the Marco Polo Network. He ran the Demographics Department of Vichy and later the National Statistics Service...

, a pioneer of the use of the calculators, who laid the foundations of the modern organization. In 1940, the Demographic Service (Service de la démographie) was created under the Ministry of Finance in order to replace the military recruitment office prohibited by the June 1940 Armistice
Armistice with France (Second Compiègne)
The Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed at 18:50 on 22 June 1940 near Compiègne, in the department of Oise, between Nazi Germany and France...

 with Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. In order to better conceal its undertakings, the Demographic Service absorbed the SGF on 11 October 1941. The new organization was called the SNS or National Statistics Service. As part of this reorganization, six new offices were created in the Northern (occupied) zone
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 whose regional structure is maintained today in INSEE.

René Carmille created an Applied Sciences School (predecessor of the current ENSAE
École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique
The École nationale de la statistique et de l'administration économique or ENSAE is one of the French Grandes Ecoles of engineering and a member of ParisTech ....

) to specially train members for the SNS.

Carmille worked for Vichy France but he was actually a double agent for the French underground. From his position in the SNS he sabotaged the Nazi census of France, which saved untold numbers of Jewish people from death camps. He also used his department to help mobilize French resistance in Algeria. He was caught by the Nazis and sent to Dachau
Dachau is a town in Upper Bavaria, in the southern part of Germany. It is a major district town—a Große Kreisstadt—of the administrative region of Upper Bavaria, about 20 km north-west of Munich. It is now a popular residential area for people working in Munich with roughly 40,000 inhabitants...

 where he died in 1945.

Creation of INSEE

The SNS was finally transformed into INSEE by the law of 27 April 1946, The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Surveys for the metropolis and overseas France (L'Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques pour la métropole et la France d'outre-mer).

List of directors

This is a list of directors of INSEE since its founding:
  • Francis-Louis Closon 1946–1961
  • Claude Gruson 1961–1967
  • Jean Ripert 1967–1974
  • Edmond Malinvaud
    Edmond Malinvaud
    Edmond Malinvaud is a French economist. He was the first president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences....

  • Jean-Claude Milleron 1987–1992
  • Paul Champsaur 1992–2003
  • Jean-Michel Charpin 2003–2007
  • Jean-Philippe Cotis 2007–

See also

  • Observatoire National de la Pauvreté et de l'Exclusion Sociale
    Observatoire National de la Pauvreté et de l'Exclusion Sociale
    The Observatoire National de la Pauvreté et de l'Exclusion Sociale is an agency of the French government. It aims at assessing poverty and exclusion in France.-Overview:...

  • VAT
    Value added tax
    A value added tax or value-added tax is a form of consumption tax. From the perspective of the buyer, it is a tax on the purchase price. From that of the seller, it is a tax only on the "value added" to a product, material or service, from an accounting point of view, by this stage of its...

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