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Series: EU-SILC


Title European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions


“The European Union (EU) Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) is an instrument that aims to collect timely and comparable cross-sectional and longitudinal multidimensional microdata on income distribution, poverty and social exclusion. It also covers various related EU living conditions and poverty policies, such as child poverty, access to healthcare and other services, housing, over-indebtedness and quality of life. It is also the main source of data for microsimulation purposes and flash estimates of income distribution and poverty rates. This instrument is anchored in the European Statistical System (ESS).”

“Information on social exclusion and housing conditions is collected mainly at household level, while labour, education and health information is obtained for persons aged 16 and over. The core of the instrument, income at detailed component level, is collected both at personal and household level.”


Data Version

Data Publisher

  • Eurostat


  • Demographic Background
  • Labour and Employment
  • Education
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Income
  • Social Exclusion
  • Household Structure
  • Technical Items
  • Modules
    • Living arrangements and conditions of children in separated and blended families
    • Optional COVID-19 related variables
    • Over-indebtedness, consumption and wealth as well as labour
    • Intergenerational transmission of disadvantages, household composition and evolution of income
    • Health & children's health
    • Access to services
    • Wellbeing
    • Intergenerational transmission of disadvantages
    • Intra-household sharing of resources
    • Material deprivation
    • Over-indebtedness and financial exclusion
    • Housing conditions
    • Social participation
    • Intergenerational transmission of poverty


Geographical Coverage

"The EU-SILC project was launched in 2003 on the basis of a ‘gentlemen's agreement’ in six EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg and Austria) and Norway. The EU-SILC instrument started in 2004 for the EU-15 (except Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) plus Estonia, Norway and Iceland.
Bulgaria and Turkey started fully implementing the EU-SILC instrument in 2006, while Romania and Switzerland began to implement it in 2007.
North Macedonia and Croatia started in 2010, Montenegro and Serbia in 2013, Albania in 2017 and Kosovo in 2018.”


“EU-SILC is organised under a framework regulation and is thus compulsory for all EU Member States. EU-SILC is based on the idea of a “common framework” in contrast with the concept of a “common survey”. The common framework is defined by harmonised lists of target primary (annual) and secondary (every four years or less frequently) variables, by a recommended design for implementing EU-SILC, by common requirements (for imputation, weighting, sampling errors calculation), common concepts (household and income) and classifications (ISCO, NACE, ISCED) aiming at maximising comparability of the information produced. The common framework is defined in the legislative background of the project, the Council and European Parliament framework Regulation, and the implementing Commission Regulations.

SILC provides two types of annual data:

  • Cross-sectional data pertaining to a given time or a certain time period with variables on income, poverty, social exclusion and other living conditions, and
  • Longitudinal data pertaining to individual-level changes over time, observed periodically over a four year period.

There are two kinds of variables in EU-SILC: the primary and secondary variables. The primary (target) variables are collected every year, whereas secondary variables are collected every five years or less frequently in the so-called ad-hoc modules. Both primary and secondary variables are collected at two different levels, the household and the individual level.
The different variables are distributed in four different files:

  • Household Register (D)
  • Personal Register (R)
  • Household Data (H)
  • Personal Data (P)

The household register file (D) must contain every selected household, including those where the address could not be contacted or those households that could not be interviewed. In the other files, records related to a household will only exist if the household has been contacted AND has a completed household interview in the household data file (H) and at least one member has complete data in the personal data file (P). This member must be the selected respondent if this mode of selection is used. The personal register file (R) must contain a record for every person currently living in the household or temporarily absent. In the longitudinal component it must also contain a record for every person registered in the R-file of the previous year or who has lived in the household for at least three months during the income reference period. The personal data file (P) must contain a record for every eligible person for whom the information could be completed from interview and/or registers.”

EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) methodology - introduction - Statistics Explained (




The reference population of EU-SILC is defined as all private households and all persons aged 16 and over within the household residing in the territory of the Member States at the time of data collection. Persons living in collective households and in institutions are generally excluded from the target population. For practical reasons, small parts of the national territory may also not be covered in the survey.


“While the Commission Regulation on sampling and tracing rules allows each country to choose its own specific sampling design, the sample must be selected in accordance with the following requirements:

  • For all components of EU-SILC (whether survey- or register-based), the cross-sectional and longitudinal (initial sample) data must be based on a nationally representative probability sample of the population residing in private households within the country, irrespective of language, nationality or legal residence status;
  • All private households and all persons aged 16+ within the household are eligible for the operation;
  • Representative probability samples must be achieved both for households and for individual persons in the target population, which form the basic units of sampling, data collection and data analysis;
  • The sampling frame and methods of sample selection must ensure that every individual and household in the target population is assigned a known and non-zero probability of selection.

The sampling frame and the methods of sample selection should ensure that every individual and household in the target population is assigned a known probability of selection that is not zero.
EU-SILC permits two types of samples:

  • An initial sample of ‘complete’ households, i.e. covering all persons in each household. Among these, only persons aged 16+ at the time are eligible for the detailed personal interview.
  • A random sample of persons. Again, only persons aged 16+ at the time are eligible for the detailed personal interview.”


Data Collection

EU-SILC data are collected by National Statistical Institutes. The EU-SILC Regulation allows some degree of flexibility to countries regarding the mode of data collection. The information can be either extracted from registers or collected from interviews.

“Each Member State or other country where the survey is conducted shall follow appropriate procedures to maximise the response rates achieved.
Details about identification of households, persons and information to be collected in the event of change in household composition are defined in Annex 4 to the implementing regulation, 2019/2242.
Details should be kept of individuals’ moves, so as to be able to follow them up and avoid losing the possibility of interviewing them.
At least three attempts to contact should be made before a household or individual is accepted as non-responding, unless there are conclusive reasons (such as a definite refusal to cooperate, circumstances endangering the safety of the interviewer, etc.) why this cannot be done.

  • The proxy rate, where proxy is allowed, should be kept as limited as possible for the income personal variables and for any variables required for at least one household member aged 16 or more. In the case that a proxy interview is carried out, the identification number of the person who has provided the information must be recorded. Where the information for the whole interview (usually in part P) is using proxy while for specific variables non proxy is used, the details should be provided in the quality reports.
  • The collection unit, together with the mode of collection for household and personal information, shouldbe as laid down in the description of the respective variables (see part II Description of variables).
  • For the data directly provided by the respondents, based on Article 7 of implemeting regulation 2019/2242 the fieldwork period should be as close as possible to the income reference period so as to minimise time lag between income and current variables.
  • The collection or compilation of data, for a given unit (household or person), between successive waves should be kept as close as possible to 12 months.
  • The data directly provided by the respondents should be collected by computer-assisted methods like CAPI, CATI and CAWI. From the wave 2 onwards, this method is highly recommended and necessary to facilitate the process of split household, follow-up, keeping unique codes and also being connected and informed by the NSI.”




Legal Basis

Current legal basis
“In September 2011, the ESS adopted the Wiesbaden Memorandum on a New conceptual design for household and social statistics. The main objectives are to increase responsiveness to user needs, quality and efficiency. The programme included actions to move towards integrating data collections, with standardisation of variables and modules, wider use of administrative data sources and improved statistical frames. The revision of EU-SILC was part of this programme.
In October 2019, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation 2019/1700 establishing a common framework for European statistics relating to persons and households, based on data at individual level collected from samples (IESS Regulation). The underlying implementing acts pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2019/1700 were adopted in December 2019. They are:

  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2180 specifying the detailed arrangements and content for the quality reports;
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2181 specifying technical characteristics as regards items common to several datasets; and
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2242 specifying the technical items of data sets, establishing the technical formats and specifying the detailed arrangements and content of the quality reports on the organisation of a sample survey in the income and living conditions domain.

The Regulation and its implementing and delegated acts provide for multiple changes to EU-SILC data collection from 2021.”


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.

Available Data & Application

Datasets availability table and release calendar

How to apply for microdata

Access Contact

Data Service

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

Person to contact: Heike Wirth (


Comparability between Countries

The comparability in EU-SILC instrument is ensured by the conceptual harmonisation of target variables obtained through their detailed definition (income components …) as provided in EU-SILC regulations and through the active role of Eurostat coordinating and supporting implementation. EU-SILC pertains to the so called ex ante output harmonization model. Explicit deviation from these commonly agreed standards was allowed to a limited extend but are monitored through quality report that are transmitted to Eurostat


Heike Wirth , Klaus Pforr, The European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions after 15 Years, European Sociological Review, Volume 38, Issue 5, October 2022, Pages 832–848,

Ad-hoc Modules

EU SILC legislation

Datasets availability table and release calendar

Net-SILC Methodological Paper