Istituto nazionale di statistica

About Italian National Institute of Statistics

The Italian National Institute of Statistics is a public research organisation. It has been present in Italy since 1926, and is the main producer of official statistics in the service of citizens and policy-makers. It operates in complete independence and continuous interaction with the academic and scientific communities.

Since 1989 Istat has been performing the role of directing, coordinating, and providing technical assistance and training within the National Statistical System (Sistan). The System was established under Legislative Decree 322/89 in order to rationalise the production and publication of information and to optimise resources allocated to official statistics.

Sistan is made up of Istat, central and branch statistical departments of Public Administrations, of local and regional bodies, Chambers of Commerce, other public bodies and administrations providing statistical information.

Mission and Vision


The mission of the Italian National Institute of Statistics is to serve the community by producing and communicating high-quality statistical information, analyses and forecasts in complete independence and in accordance with the strictest ethical and professional principles and most up-to-date scientific standards, in order to develop detailed knowledge of Italy’s environmental, economic and social dimensions at various levels of geographical detail and to assist all members of society (citizens, administrators, etc.) in decision-making processes.


Istat aims to be an innovative administration which is committed to serving the community by placing value on the professionalism and integrity of its staff, creating appropriate working conditions and minimising its impact on the environment.
Istat respects the privacy of respondents, protects the confidentiality of the data that it gathers and carries out its activities in a transparent, independent manner. Istat is oriented towards seeking to use available resources in the most effective, efficient way possible, promotes the development of Sistan and works with other organisations within the National Statistical System and public administration, with the research community and with civil society, with the additional purpose of improving the level of awareness and understanding with regard to statistics. Istat is a member of the European Statistical System and works with other organisations within the international statistical system.

Modernisation Programme

The modernisation programme of the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat), whose main objective is to enrich the supply and quality of the information produced, while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of overall activity.
This goal means being aware that the statistics released have to meet the needs of an ever -changing society and the new requests for information, bearing in mind that Istat is producer, researcher and guarantor of the quality of official statistics, besides playing a guiding role for a proper and competent use of statistics.

Modernisation Programme

Long-term strategic objectives

  1. To evaluate information requirements through ongoing dialogue with users.
  2. To produce relevant statistical information for national and international users in accordance with the highest standards of quality, as well as strict ethical and professional principles.
  3. To publish and communicate effectively statistical information and results of analyses conducted in order to foster awareness of Italy’s economic, social and environmental dimensions and to improve decision-making processes on the part of private subjects and public institutions.
  4. To conduct methodological, applied research with the aim of improving processes involved in the production of statistical information, and contributing to the knowledge of Italy’s environmental, economic and social dimensions.
  5. To develop the human capital of Istat and Sistan, to strengthen statistical training for the public administration and promote statistical literacy in the Country
  6. Enhance technological innovation and management and administrative efficiency in Istat, in order to improve the quality of statistical production processes and working conditions of its staff
  7. To develop the National Statistical System in order to extend the range and quality of statistical information provided to the community and contribute to the strengthening of the European Statistical System
  8. Create, enhance and update the statistical registers of individuals, households and economic operators in view of the ongoing census, thus increasing the amount of information at the local level and in a longitudinal perspective
  9. Complete the “Stat2015” project by innovating production processes and products within a coherent conceptual framework and in line with international best practices
  10. Promote the coordinated development of the information systems of public administration and their use for statistical purposes. This would increase the information available maximizing the integration of sources while minimizing the statistical burden on respondents


In 1861 a first General Statistics Division was set up within the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1926, the Central Institute of Statistics was created under law n. 1162: the idea of statistics as a tool for understanding phenomena started to grow along with the conviction that all surveys should be carried out by a single independent body.

From the beginning, the Institute undertook not only to produce but also to disseminate information: it started to regularly publish the Italian Statistical Yearbook and the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics. In 1952 Istat organised the first sample survey on labour force in Sicily and in the provinces of Milan, Pisa and Naples. Since 1957, the survey has been carried out quarterly on a national basis.

In the years 1966-1968 the publication of the Supplements to the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics allowed for a rapid dissemination of results of major surveys of the Institute. The aim was to facilitate access to statistical information and to broaden the range of users. In those same years the first sample surveys on household consumptions, reading habits and vacation started being carrried out. In 1983, the databases of the Institute officially opened to the public. In 1986, Istat obtained official recognition for its scientific work and, accordingly, was included in the research sector.

In 1989, the Legislative Decree n. 322 laid down the rules for the establishment of the National Statistical System and contributed to make statistical production more user-oriented. Istat became the National Institute of Statistics and was charged with planning and coordinating the entire structure. In 1992, according to the dictates of the law, the first National Conference of Statistics was held and became a two-year occasion for producers and users of official statistics to meet.

In 1995, Istat opened its first regional offices, the Statistical Information Centres to assist users at all levels; two years later, access to the European Union harmonized statistics was officially allowed. In 1996, Istat renovated its editorial production and launched its new institutional website.

According to the deadlines and criteria set by the Maastricht Treaty, since 1998 Istat has being elaborating and disseminating data on convergence indicators, necessary to evaluate the performance of the country’s economy.

In 2000-2001, the Institute carried out the 5th General census of agriculture, the 14th General census of population and housing and the 8th General census of industry and services. In the same years, great impetus was given to the development of the website, offering free access to several databases and datawarehouses, i.e. systems for data storage and querying allowing users to generate customized statistical tables.

In 2005, Istat launched a new version of the institutional website.

In 2010, Istat released I.Stat, the datawarehouse of the statistics produced by the Institute. I.stat offers a complete and homogeneous wealth of statistical information. The data are organized by themes and presented in multidimensional tables together with a wide array of metadata. Access to the datawarehouse is free.

In 2010, Istat participated in the first World Statistics Day. Promoted and organized by the United Nations, the event involved the statistical institutions of more than 190 countries and international organizations in a full program of activities to enhance the visibility of the entire system of official statistics and increase public confidence in quantitative information.

In 2010 Istat started working on the new round of Census. Carried out every ten years, the survey paints a picture of the country on the basis of uniform criteria, thus allowing for comparisons at European and international level.
In October 2010 the 6th Census of agriculture started. In October 2011, the 15th Census of population and housing and the 9th Census of industry and services will start.

In 2011 the Institute actively participated in the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy.

Istat in the European Statistical System


The European Statistical System (ESS) includes: Eurostat (the statistical office of the EU), the statistical offices of all the Member States (the so-called National Statistical Institutes) and other institutions producing European statistics.

The European Statistical System guarantees that European statistics produced in all EU-Member States are reliable, following common criteria and definitions and processing data in an appropriate way so that they are always comparable among the different EU countries (ESS Vision 2020).

The ESS is currently regulated by the new European Statistical Law, passed in 2015 with Regulation (EC) 2015/759 of the European Parliament and the Council, modifying Regulation (CE) n. 223/2009.

The European Statistical System Committee is the nucleus of the ESS and comprises of Eurostat and the presidents of the national statistics offices of the Member States and EFTA countries. This Committee provides guidance for planning, producing and disseminating European statistics, and is involved in the process of compiling and adopting the European statistical legislation.

The ESS draws up a European Statistical Programme, which includes five-year statistical planning. This Programme is passed by the European Parliament and the Council.

In order to ensure that users’ needs are taken into account when compiling the European Statistical Programme, the European Statistical Advisory Committee was created. It represents users, informants, academic and social institutions and the Community administration

Although the planning of activities is carried out jointly by the National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat, the production of harmonised national statistics falls within the competence of Member States' authorities, whereas Eurostat collects the data provided by the States, analyses them, and based on them, offers comparable and harmonised figures. This contributes to the Community policy-making process.

Eurostat, moreover, is committed to ensuring the functioning of this complex system (different languages, very diverse forms of administrative organization, specific nomenclatures, etc.) and, accordingly the coherence and quality of data produced.