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Series: EU-LFS

Titles

Title European Union Labour Force Survey

Abstract

The European Union Labour Force Survey is a rotating random sample survey covering the population in private households in currently 33 European countries. The main aim of the LFS is to provide comparable information on employed, unemployed and inactive persons of working age (15 years and above) in European countries. The definitions of employment and unemployment used in the LFS closely follow the International Labour Organisations guidelines. Common classifications used are: NACE (rev1), ISCO-88 (COM), ISCED, NUTS.
Core topics of the LFS are demographic background; labour status; employment characteristics of the main job; hours worked; second job; previous work experience of person not in employment; search for employment; methods used during previous four weeks to find work; main labour status; education and training; situation one year before survey; income; atypical work.
Since 1999 the LFS also includes so called 'ad hoc modules' on a yearly but rotating basis.

Data Version

Data Publisher

  • Eurostat

Keywords

  • Labour and Employment
    • Employment
    • In-job Training
    • Retirement
    • Unemployment
    • Working Conditions
  • Education
    • Basic Skills Education
    • Vocational Education
  • Health
    • General Health
  • Housing and Land Use Planning
    • Housing
  • Social Stratification and Groupings
    • Children
    • Family Life and Marriage
  • Demography and Population
    • Migration

Processing

Geographical Coverage

The EU-LFS currently covers thirty-three countries (participating countries) providing Eurostat with data from national labour force surveys: the 28 Member States of the European Union, three EFTA countries (Iceland, which at the same time is a candidate country, Norway and Switzerland), and two candidate countries, i.e. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. All the territories of participating countries are covered, except for Cyprus which only covers the areas under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, and except for the French overseas departments (DOM). (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/lfs/overview)

Organization

The EU LFS is conducted by the National Statistical Institutes across Europe and is centrally processed by Eurostat. The national statistical institutes are responsible for selecting the sample, preparing the questionnaires, conducting the direct interviews among households, and forwarding the results to Eurostat in accordance with the common coding scheme.
The data collection covers the years from 1983 onwards. Until 1997, EU-LFS data was mainly collected on a yearly basis, usually in spring of a reference year. From 1998, the EU LFS has step by step become a continuous quarterly survey. In 2006, the structure of the LFS changed significantly to reduce the burden on respondents; since then, all variables have to be collected on a yearly basis, but only a selection of them on a quarterly basis. Those variables which do not have to be collected on a quarterly but only on a yearly basis are referred to as structural variables. To comply with the new structure, LFS data are basically divided into 2 databases:

  • Quarterly datasets containing only the quarterly variables
  • Yearly datasets containing all variables of the core LFS survey, the quarterly and the structural ones

(http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/european-union-labour-force-survey)

Universe

The EU-LFS is the largest European household sample survey providing quarterly and annual results on labour participation of people aged 15 and over as well as on persons outside the labour force. It covers residents in private households.

Sampling

The sampling units are dwellings, household or individuals depending on the country-specific sampling frames.

Data Collection

As a rule the data are collected by interviewing the sampled individuals directly, but proxy interviews (through a responsible person in the household) are also possible. Moreover part of the data can also be supplied by equivalent information from alternative sources, such as e.g. administrative registers (mainly social insurance records and population registers). Survey participation is compulsory in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Austria, Portugal and Norway.

"Four modes of data collection exist for the EU-LFS: personal visits, telephone interviews,web interviews and self-administered questionnaires. More than half of the countries conduct the first wave always or mainly via personal visit, while subsequent waves are interviewed with telephone, if available. Germany collects data mainly with face-to-face interviews (using CAPI); persons not available for the interviewer or refusing oral interviews are in a few cases interviewed by telephone or more frequently fill in selfadministered postal questionnaires. Denmark collects data for the core-LFS with telephone interviews (CATI), but for the household subsample computer assisted web interviews (CAWI) are used. Belgium conducts the interviews by means of face-to-face (CAPI), but in households of retired persons, interviews can be conducted by telephone. The Netherlands uses computer assisted web interviews (CAWI), interviews by means of faceto- face (CAPI) and telephone interviews (CATI). Six countries (Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) rely solely on telephone interviews. Italy, Spain and Portugal use a mixed mode CAPI-CATI: CAPI mainly for first wave and CATI mainly for later waves. Five countries (Bulgaria, Ireland, Romania, Croatia and Turkey) collect data using only face-to-face interviews. Among those Ireland and Turkey using computerized questionnaires (CAPI).
Most countries conduct the interview only with computerized questionnaires. Six (Malta, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Poland and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) use both computerized and paper questionnaires and three countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia) rely solely on paper questionnaires."
(Eurostat: Quality report of the European Union - Labour Force Survey - 2014 - 2015 edition, p. 8)

Anonymization

National Statistical Institutes transmit LFS microdata to Eurostat, but they remain owners of their data. LFS microdata are confidential data which contain information about individual statistical units. In order to minimize the risk of disclosure of the statistical units to which the records relate, anonymisation criteria are applied to both core and ad-hoc module datasets. This consists of deleting certain variables and aggregating others. The anonymisation and aggregation criteria are defined and agreed on a regular basis between Eurostat and the National Statistical Institutes in the Working Group Labour Market Statistics, enabling Eurostat to make EU-LFS microdata available to researchers.

CRITERIA FOR THE ANONYMISATION OF LFS MICRODATA

Legal Basis

"The EU-LFS is based on European legislation since 1973. The principal legal act is the Council Regulation (EC) No. 577/98. The regulations are an important element assuring the quality of the EU-LFS. They stipulate the rules and guidelines to assure the comparability of the results by regulating the survey designs, the survey characteristics, methods and the decision making processes of the EU-LFS.

A detailed overview on the EU-LFS regulations is published in Statistics Explained: “EU-LFS – main features and legal basis”

In addition to European regulations, many participating countries have their own national legislation for the conduct of a labour force survey."

(Eurostat: Quality report of the European Union - Labour Force Survey - 2014 - 2015 edition, p. 5)

Data Access

Access Conditions

The current legal framework enables access to anonymised microdata available at Eurostat only for scientific purposes (Commission Regulations (EU) 557/2013; (EC) No 1104/2006; (EC) No 1000/2007; Council Regulation 322/97), however the access is restricted to universities, research institutes, national statistical institutes, central banks inside the EU, as well as to the European Central Bank. Individuals cannot be granted direct data access.
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/overview

Access Form

Access Contact

estat-microdata-access@ec.europe.eu

Data Service

German Microdata Lab (GML), GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Person to contact: Klaus Pforr (klaus.pforr@gesis.org)

Comparability

Comparability over Time

"Every year, a certain number of changes are introduced in some national LFSs, to take into account changes introduced at European level, to better align the national surveys to the already existing EU regulations or methodological guidelines, or to take into consideration national needs. These changes can concern the conceptual level (i.e. concepts and definitions used by the LFS, the survey coverage, i.e. the target population, the legislation, the classifications used, the geographical boundaries) or the measurement level (i.e. the sampling frame, the sample design, the rotation pattern, the questionnaire, the instructions to interviewers, the survey modes, the weighting scheme, the use of auxiliary information)." (Eurostat: Quality report of the European Union - Labour Force Survey - 2014 - 2015 edition, p. 21)

For further information see Quality Reports of the European Union Labour Force Survey.

Transition to a quarterly continuous survey: From 1983 to 1997, the EU Labour Force Survey was conducted only in spring (quarter 1 or 2 depending on the country). Data for the remaining quarters started to become progressively available from 1998 onwards. Since 1998, the transition to a quarterly continuous survey (with reference weeks spread uniformly throughout the year) has been gradually conducted by Member States. Some countries first introduced a continuous annual survey (meaning the reference weeks were uniformly distributed throughout the spring quarter) and then switched to a quarterly collection, whereas others moved directly to a quarterly continuous survey.

Comparability between Countries

To ensure the comparability of the statistical results across countries and along time the EU-LFS

  • uses the same concepts and definitions
  • follows International Labour Organization guidelines
  • uses common classifications (NACE, ISCO, ISCED, NUTS)
  • records the same set of characteristics in each country

Comparability of the statistics between the participating countries is mainly true for the main characteristics, employment and unemployment where particular definitions and sequence of questions are part of the EU legislation. For other variables, each country has the responsibility to ensure that the national survey provides data that are compatible with the EU definitions and of the same quality. Anyway, the national questionnaires still largely differ even in the collection of key variables such as WSTATOR or INDECIL (Eurostat: Quality Report of the European Labour Force Survey 2012 - 2014 edition: p. 23). Work is on-going to reduce these disparities and improve the comparability of the variables.

Notes

References