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The Weight of the Social Economy

An International Perspective


Edited By CIRIEC, Marie J. Bouchard and Damien Rousselière

What is the weight of the social economy? How should we measure it? Throughout the world, cooperatives, non-profit and mutual benefit organizations, foundations and other social enterprises play an important role in job creation, social cohesion, social innovation, regional development and environmental protection. Observations tend to confirm the ability of the social economy to contribute to balancing economies, mainly by serving as an anti-cyclical force in the face of economic crises. However, many countries and regions lack statistical information about its weight, size and scope on their territory.
This book fills a gap in the literature about the social economy. It seeks to explain why it is important to have statistics on it, to understand how they are produced, and to project how the social economy might be better understood in the future. The book offers researchers and decision-makers an overview of the current state of knowledge on these topics.

This book is the result of the International Ciriec working group on "The Weight and Size of the Social Economy – International Perspectives for the Production of Statistics for the Social Economy" developed by the CIRIEC International Scientific Commission "Social and Cooperative Economy":

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To Estimate the Scope and Size of the Social Economy in Japan. Challenges for Producing Comprehensive Statistics



Professor, Institute for Solidarity-based Societyat Hosei University, Tokyo, and directorof the Consumer Co-operative Institute of Japan

The social economy in Japan has made substantial growth and played significant roles in some socio-economic branches. The nonprofit sector has been the principal provider of social and health services, and education at various levels. The co-operative sector has played a pivotal role in handling the bulk of foodstuff. Agricultural co-operatives are ranked as the largest co-operative organizations in the ICA’s Global 300 while consumer co-ops have grown to be powerful consumer organizations with 26 million members comparable to the European counterparts.

However, the social economy is not visible in comparison with the powerful corporate sector and the commanding public sector. It lacks the identity as a sector and the cohesion among organizations involved that resulted in low recognition by the government, media or academism. There are several reasons to explain this lack of visibility but the most important one is the institutional divide. The lack of the comprehensive statistics has been a serious flaw in the public recognition. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government initiated a round table on “New Public Commons” which proposed to promote the “Civic Sector” that largely corresponded to the social economy for the first time in the official documents but there is no follow up by the returned Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government.

The government-sponsored Research Institute of Economy, Trade & Industry (RIETI) conducted comprehensive surveys to...

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