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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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Challenges in Conducting a Study on the Economic Impact of Co-operatives


Nicoleta UZEA

Postdoctoral research associate, Ivey Business School,Western University, Canada


Member of the board, Canadian Association for Studiesin Co-operation, Community co-lead, National Studyon the Impact of Co-operatives

The resilience of cooperatives in the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis1 (Birchall and Ketilson, 2009; Roelants et al., 2012; Birchall, 2013) has led to increased interest in the cooperative business model, and the impact that cooperatives have on the economy and the communities in which they operate. In 2009, the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives produced the first comprehensive set of national-level statistics on the importance of the broad cooperative sector to the U.S. economy (Deller et al., 2009). Also, in 2010, the Measuring the Cooperative Difference Research Network initiated a five-year project aimed at measuring the economic, along with social and environmental, impact of all cooperatives operating in Canada (Measuring the Cooperative Difference Research Network, 2010). As well, in 2012, Coop FR – les entreprises coopératives produced the first set of statistics on the contribution of the broad cooperative sector to the French economy (Coop FR – les entreprises ← 251 | 252 → coopératives, 2012).2 Prior to these initiatives, the analysis of the economic impact of cooperatives was generally limited to a province/state or regional economy3 and/or to a single economic sector4 (the one exception that we know of is Cooperatives UK, who started to produce a comprehensive review of the UK’s cooperative sector in 2007 (Cooperatives UK, 2007)...

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