Economic census will be key in measuring the popular economy


The call ‘popular economy’ is one of the great commitments of the Government of Gustavo Petro. For this reason, it was determined in the bill of the National Development Plan (PND) that the Dane must create a statistical information system focused on these activities, and also, that they must also be incorporated in the Economic Census scheduled for 2024.

The popular economy, as defined in the PND, shelters “trades and trades (production, distribution and marketing of goods and services) and non-market (domestic or community) developed by small-scale economic units (personal, family, micro-businesses or micro-enterprises), in any economic sector”.

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Portfolio consulted with the director of Dane, Piedad Urdinola, about what the process of build the Popular Economy Information System (SIEP). According to the officialthe statistical records that will feed the creation of the SIEP include the microbusiness survey, cultural economy statistics, circular economy statistics, the information system on informal economic activities and other records.

We will start with conceptual and methodological aspects to integrate the information system with other data sources, with other statistical operations. This system will need the interoperability of many sources that do not appear overnight with the National Development Plan. A set of associated statistical issues is already being worked on and they make up this great battery of information that will allow more efficiently, and in a medium term, the design of our SIEP”, he explained.

According to the director of Dane, another key input will be the Economic Census, and in particularthe investigations and records that want to link the issue of informality from different perspectives.

Although there are 5.3 million micro-businesses in Colombia, according to official Dane statistics, With the economic census, it is expected to better identify the productive units of the country.

“The census seeks to detail a universe. If we talk about a population census, it is households and people, a population census measures economic units. In this case, we will follow international guidelines on how an economic unit is measured, and Colombia will include for the first time the economic units of the popular economy.r”, indicated the director of the Dane.

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According to the official, these economic units are expected to be categorized by activity and geographical area, and evenseeks to include a gender approachat least in the identification of the bosses, or ‘the heads’ of these.

In addition, according to Urdinola, from the point of view of people, the Great Integrated Household Survey will be used, the one that provides information on the labor market, and the Quality of Life Survey. It is worth remembering that in Colombia, six out of ten workers are informal, since the national indicator is at 58.2%.

And for the measurement of non-commercial activities, the Care Economy Satellite Account and the National Time Use Survey will also be taken into account, which allows us to see unpaid domestic work.

A census of 429,036 blocks and rural work areas have been surveyed.


For several experts, the measurement of the popular economy in statistical matters will have challenges, but also opportunities.

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What the President and the Development Plan are proposing, Dane can do, because there is already a survey of micro-establishments, it is a very powerful survey, and many other things can be added, since Dane has a large amount of alternative information that could account for what the President calls the popular economyr”, explained César Caballero, manager of the firm Cifras y Conceptos, and former director of Dane.

However, according to Caballero, “the risk is that the same thing that happened with the ‘orange economy’ in the government of Iván Duque will happen, that the Dane took what already existed in the creative industries and gave it that name. And the popular economy actually resembles the concept of informality, something that Dane has already been doing and that a couple of reports will add, ”he questioned.

According to Caballero, the real challenge is not in the collection of information, but in the analysis, and that is where the opportunity to contribute lies.

On the other hand, the former director of Dane, Ernesto Rojas Morales, assured that measuring everything that wants to be included within the popular economy is not going to be easy. “There is a way of measuring that is by exclusion, that is, the formal economy is measured, and what remains after subtracting it from the total economy is the informal economy. The magnitude is not difficult to measure, the difficult thing will be to measure the different modalities of popular or informal economy”, he assured.

red recognized that the characterization will be fundamentalHe, “because a self-employed worker, who is a vendor in a city, is not the same as a farmer.” For the former director of Dane, although it will be a complex process and it will take time, “it is something that Dane can do because he has the technical capabilities.”

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The President stressed, after filing the articles of the Plan before Congress, that the popular economy “It is the one from San Victorino, the one that reaches the streets, the one of the peasant, the one of the micro-entrepreneur lady, the one of the cooperative member, the one of the search…”.

According to the Director of Dane, the process of creating a new system does not depend only on guidelines from the Executive, but rather responds to a construction of protocols “that follow statistical standards and must always supply all projects under the responsibility of Dane.”

Portfolio Journalist

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