According to the 2016 Cuban Statistical Yearbook, private work represented 24.8% of the total number of employed people in 2016. However, according to the 2017 edition of the yearbook, private work in 2016 was only 19.2%.
In absolute figures, according to the 2016 edition, that year the number of private workers was 1,139,200, but the 2017 edition had reduced the figure to 882,300. What happened to the 256,900 private workers that are missing in that last figure?
In a “subtle way” they were reclassified as cooperative members. The reason is that starting with the 2017 Statistical Yearbook, it was decided to not report the number of members of the credit and service cooperatives (CCS) as private sector workers, as had been traditionally done, but are now reported as cooperative workers.
The figures were revised backwards, so that in the 2017 edition of the yearbook there is a new series of data between 2014 and 2017 that has transformed the private producers, who are members of the CSS, into cooperative members.
However, the data prior to 2014 are not compatible with the new series, since they list the number of members of the CCS as workers in the private sector, as was traditionally done.
What happens if you want to make a long-term comparison in the evolution of private and cooperative work, say from 2010 to 2017?
Well, we should not really waste time trying to do this. It simply couldn’t be done now.
It is a curious “contribution” to the improvement of economic analysis in Cuba.
What is the reason for the change of criteria and the botched-up methodology that limits the comparability of data?
It would be necessary to guess, because as far as I know nobody has bothered to explain it.
Here goes my modest opinion:
- The statistics on private and cooperative workers in Cuba have been distorted.
- The nature of the CCS was not modified between 2016 and 2017. They remain what they always were: associative organizations where the individual form of ownership of land and other productive assets is maintained, and work is organized as a family economy. That establishes a remarkable difference with respect to the rest of the cooperative forms. The CCS is a voluntary association through which the technical, financial and material assistance provided by the State is processed and made viable, but in which small farmers have the property or usufruct of their respective lands and other means of production, as well as of the production they obtain.
- That changing of figures can have a detrimental effect on the economic analysis. The private work segment is “deflated” and cooperative work is “inflated,” and with it a process that reflects an important component of the reality of the transformation of the Cuban economy is hidden: the private sector (self-employed workers, farmers, home renters) has been the only sector where net employment has been created in recent years and has done so by a significant amount, 417,400 new workers between 2010 and 2016. This process was clearly observable until the 2016 edition of the yearbook. The 2017 edition does not compare the figures with respect to 2010, but it reduces the weight of private workers in total employment.
My provisional hypothesis, pending some new evidence to discard it, is the following:
It seems that the reality of national employment was not considered to be “ideologically correct” and that, therefore, the weight of private work had to be reduced. A “methodological” change allowed such a “magic trick” to be made and at a stroke 256,900 workers were taken out of the private sector, more than a quarter of a million. As simple as that.
My humble suggestion to those who might be in charge of the matter: this is the kind of thing that devalues the seriousness of the national statistical record in the eyes of any economic analyst. From the moment statistics are used to distort reality, the data losses credibility.
Taken from the blog El Estado como tal. Reproduced with the authorization of the author.