German Microdata Lab

European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS)

About the EU-LFS

Population The European Union Labour Force Survey is a rotating random sample survey covering the population in private households in currently 33 European countries. The sampling units are dwellings, household or individuals depending on the country-specific sampling frames. In 2008 the sample size of the EU-LFS was about 4,000,000 individuals.
Survey Period1968-1972 annual surveys, 1973-1981 biennial surveys, since 1983 annual surveys (1983: start of EU LFS microdata collection). From 1998, the EU LFS has step by step become a continuous quarterly survey.
Survey MethodThe EU LFS is conducted by the National Statistical Institutes across Europe and is centrally processed by Eurostat. 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.
TopicsThe 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. 1999: Accidents at work and occupational diseases; 2000: Transition from school to working life; 2001: Length and patterns of working time; 2002: Employment of disabled people; 2003: Lifelong learning; 2004: Work organisation and working time arrangements; 2005: Reconciliation between work and family life; 2006: Transition from work into retirement; 2007: Accidents at work and work-related health problems; 2008: Labour market situation of migrants and their immediate descendants; 2009: Entry of young people into the labour market; 2010: Reconciliation between work and family life; 2011: Employment of disabled people.
Data Access

The current legal framework enables access to anonymised microdata available at Eurostat only for scientific purposes (see EU LFS regulations), 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. For detailled information concerning data access, costs and how to submit an access request see:

Access contact point: estat-microdata-access(at)ec.europe(dot)eu

Publications based on EU-LFS

Bachmann, Ronald et al. (2015): Labour Market Dynamics and Worker Heterogeneity During the Great Recession – Evidence from Europe. In: IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, 4 (1). [link]

Bachmann, Ronald; Baumgarten, Daniel (2012): How Do the Unemployed Search for a Job? Evidence from the EU Labour Force Survey. Ruhr Economic Papers 312. Essen. [link]

Baranowska, Anna; Gebel, Michael (2010): The determinants of youth temporary employment in the enlarged Europe. Do labour market institutions matter? In: European Societies, 12, 367–390.

Baranowska, Anna; Gebel, Michael (2008): Temporary Employment in Central- and Eastern Europe. Individual Risk Patterns and Institutional Context. MZES Working Paper 106. Mannheim. [link]

Barbieri, Paolo; Cutuli, Giorgio (2015): Employment Protection Legislation, Labour Market Dualism, and Inequality in Europe. In: European Sociological Review, 32 (4), 501-516. [link]

Battisti, Michele et al. (2014): Immigration, Search Frictions and Redistribution: A Quantitative Welfare Analysis. NBER Working Paper No. 20131. [link]

Berger, Catrin (2015): Deutschland noch weit von UN-Zielvorgaben entfernt: Analysen zur Arbeitsmarktsituation von behinderten Menschen in der Europäischen Union. In: Informationsdienst Soziale Indikatoren ISI, 53. [link]

Bertrand, Marianne et al. (2016): Social Norms, Labor Market Opportunities, and the Marriage Gap for Skilled Women. NBER Working Paper No. 22015. [link]

Bičáková, Alena (2010): Gender Unemployment Gaps. Evidence from the New EU Member States. CERGE-EI Working Paper 410. Prague. [link]

Bloomfield, Matthew J. et al. (2015): The Effect of Regulatory Harmonization on Cross-border Labor Migration: Evidence from the Accounting Profession. NBER Working Paper No. 20888. [link]

Boll, Christina et al. (2016): Magnitude and Impact Factors of the Gender Pay Gap in EU Countries. European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice. [link]

Burchell, Brendan et al. (2014): A New Method to Understand Occupational Gender Segregation in European Labour Markets.  European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice. [link]

Dieckhoff, Martina; Steiber, Nadia (2012): Institutional Reforms and Age-graded Labour Market Inequalities in Europe. In: International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 53, 97-119.

Dietrich, Hans (2012): Youth unemployment in Europe. Theoretical considerations and empirical findings. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, International Policy Analysis. Berlin. [link]

Dumont, Jean-Christophe et al. (2016): How are Refugees Faring on the Labour Market in Europe? A first Evaluation based on the 2014 EU Labour Force Survey ad hoc module. European Commission. Brussels. [link]

Eichhorst, Werner et al. (2010): Quantity over Quality? A European Comparison of the Changing Nature of Transitions between Non-Employment and Employment. IZA Discussion Paper 5285. Bonn. [link]

Fokkema, Tineke; Liefbroer, Aart C. (2008): Trends in Living Arrangements in Europe. Convergence or Divergence? In: Demographic Research, 19, 1351-1418. [link]

Gebel, Michael; Giesecke, Johannes (2011): Labor Market Flexibility and Inequality. The Changing Skill-Based Temporary Employment and Unemployment Risks in Europe. In: Social Forces, 90, 17-40.

Guzi, Martin; Kahanec, Martin; Mýtna Kureková, Lucia (2015): How Immigration Grease Is Affected by Economic, Institutional and Policy Contexts: Evidence from EU Labor Markets. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9108. Bonn. [link]

Hartlapp, Miriam; Schmid, Günther (2008): Employment Risks and Opportunities for an Ageing Workforce in the EU. WZB Discussion Paper 2008-105. Berlin. [link]

Herwig, Andreas (2017): Arbeitsmarktchancen von Migranten in Europa. Analysen zur Bedeutung von Bildungsherkunft und Bildungssystemen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Hipp, Lena et al. (2017): Teilzeitväter? Deutschland, Schweden, Irland und die Niederlande im Vergleich. In: Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 29, 32-48.

Hipp, Lena; Stuth, Stefan (2013): Management und Teilzeit? Eine empirische Analyse zur Verbreitung von Teilzeitarbeit unter Managerinnen und Managern in Europa. In: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 65, 101-128.

Jousten, Alain; Lefebvre, Mathieu (2016): Work Capacity and Longer Working Lives in Belgium. In: Wise, David A. (ed.): Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: The Capacity to Work at Older Ages. [link]

Kiiver, Hannah; Espelage, Frank (2016): The Use of Regression Models in Labour Market Flow Statistics. European Conference on Quality in Official Statistics (Q2016),  Madrid. [pdf]

Kluge, Fanny et al. (2014): The Advantages of Demographic Change after the Wave: Fewer and Older, but Healthier, Greener, and More Productive? In: Public Library of Science 2014, 9 (9). [link]

Körner, Thomas; Wolff, Loup (2016): Do the Germans Really Work Six Weeks More than the French? Measuring Working Time with the Labour Force Survey in France and Germany. In: Journal of Official Statistics, 32, 405-431.

Livanos, Ilias; Nunez, Imanol (2012): The Effect of Higher Education on Gender Wage-Gap. In: International Journal of Education, Economics and Development, 3, 33-47.

Mack, Alexander; Lengerer, Andrea; Dickhaut, Theresa (2016): Anonymized EU-LFS Microdata for Research: Background, Resources, and Introduction to Data Handling. GESIS Papers 2016/15. [link]

Martí, Mónica; Ródenas, Carmen (2007): Migration Estimation Based on the Labour Force Survey. An EU-15 Perspective. In: International Migration Review, 41, 101-126.

Nunez, Imanol; Livanos, Ilias (2010): Higher education and unemployment in Europe. An analysis of the academic subject and national effects. In: Higher Education, 59, 475-487.

Reimer, David; Noelke, Clemens; Kucel, Aleksander (2008): Labor Market Effects of Field of Study in Comparative Perspective. An Analysis of 22 European Countries. In: International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 49, 233-256.

Schmeißer, Claudia et al. (2012): Atypische Beschäftigung in Europa 1996-2009. WZB Discussion Paper 2012-001. Berlin. [link]

Skupnik, Christoph (2014): EU Enlargement and the Race to the Bottom of Welfare States. In: IZA Journal of Migration, 3 (15). Bonn. [link] 

Ziller, Conrad (2014): Ethnic Diversity, Economic and Cultural Contexts, and Social Trust: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Evidence from European Regions, 2002–2010. Social Forces, 93 (3), 1211-1240. [link]