2.01 . The economy of a country is the outcome of the activity of a very large number of units which carry out numerous transactions of various kinds for purposes of production, finance, insurance, redistribution and consumption.
2.02 . The units and groupings of units used in national accounts must be defined with reference to the kind of economic analysis for which they are intended, and not in terms of the types of unit usually employed in statistical inquiries. These latter units (enterprises, holding companies, kind-of-activity units, local units, government departments, non-profit institutions, households, etc.) may not always be satisfactory for the purposes of national accounts, since they are generally based on traditional criteria of a legal, administrative or accounting nature.
Statisticians should take into account the definitions of units of analysis used in the ESA, in order to ensure that in the surveys in which actual data are collected all the elements of information needed to compile data based on the units of analysis used in the ESA are gradually introduced.
2.03 . A feature of the system is the use of three types of unit corresponding to two very different ways of subdividing the economy. To analyse the process of production, it is essential to select units which bring out relationships of a technico-economic nature; to analyse flows affecting income, capital and financial transactions and balance sheets, it is essential to select units which make it possible to study behavioural relationships among economic agents.
Given these two objectives, institutional units appropriate for the analysis of economic behaviour, local kind-of-activity units and units of homogeneous production appropriate for the analysis of technico-economic relationships are defined later in this chapter. In practice, these three types of unit are formed by combining or subdividing the basic units of statistical inquiries or sometimes received directly from statistical inquiries. Before giving precise definitions of these three types of unit used in the ESA, it is necessary to define the limits of the national economy.