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Business data linking. recent UK experience. business data in the UK. common register (IDBR) since 1994 key law: Statistics of Trade Act 1947 data collection supervised by a Survey Control Unit concerns over burden on business exemptions from repeat surveys for smallest firms

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business data linking

Business data linking

recent UK experience

business data in the uk
business data in the UK
  • common register (IDBR) since 1994
  • key law: Statistics of Trade Act 1947
  • data collection supervised by a Survey Control Unit
    • concerns over burden on business
    • exemptions from repeat surveys for smallest firms
  • devolved political and statistical framework
    • government departments separate bodies
    • data sharing has purposes and limitations specified
the business data linking project bdl
the Business Data Linking project (BDL)
  • begun in the late 1990s
    • core dataset: Annual Respondents Database
    • other datasets: R&D, skills, Community Innovation Surveys, e-commerce, New Earnings Survey…
  • joint venture between ONS, OGDs*, academics
  • academics on secondment work in a “safe setting”
  • no access outside ONS
  • outputs checked manually for disclosure checking

*OGD: other government department

sample outputs
sample outputs
  • solving the productivity problem?
    • UK multinationals as productive as foreign-owned firms
    • domestically-oriented firms even more unproductive?
  • ecommerce lowers prices!
    • ...perhaps...
    • actually seems to emphasise existing market conditions
    • competition increases - but monopolies get stronger too
  • on-the-job versus general skills
    • linking skills and schooling data to firm data indicates a genuine productivity gain from general human capital
problems 1 the ministry for adding things up
problems (1): “the ministry for adding things up”
  • microdata quality suffers
    • statistical editing and block adjustment
  • redefinition and interpretation of data or metadata
    • more problematic for micro users
    • eg SIC80-SIC92
  • longitudinal integrity
    • crucial to micro analysis, irrelevant to macro numbers
    • not designed into repeat surveys
  • documentation
    • different focus
problems 2 sampling frames
problems (2): sampling frames
  • small firms
    • low probability of reselection
    • smallest excluded by design
  • changes in census band
  • voluntary surveys
  • non-IDBR sample selection
problems 3 inconsistencies
problems (3): inconsistencies
  • inconsistent across time
    • eg ICT and innovation surveys
  • inconsistent across surveys
    • eg foreign ownership
problems 4 confidentiality
problems (4): confidentiality
  • linking complicates disclosure control
    • increases number of quality assurers
  • linking across small samples
    • reduces frequencies
    • increases likelihood of disclosiveness
  • no general government right to share data
    • explicit agreement needed to share data across OGDs
new developments
new developments
  • timely electronic documentation
  • automatic matching
  • feedback into survey design
  • integrated data and metadata system
  • increasing awareness of benefits of microdata
    • increases value of data
    • lowers business burden
    • answers new questions
    • improves knoweldge of datasets
what have we learnt
what have we learnt?
  • enthusiastic data providers are the key
    • plan early for disclosure checking too
    • feed back
  • check data version
    • may not be a ‘definitive’ file
    • and even ‘clean’ datasets need preparation time
  • check micro validity - macro validity isn’t enough
    • duplicates and bad values
    • inconsistencies within and across datasets and time
  • “useless” data can be useful when linked
  • be prepared to take the lead
  • don’t get stressed
    • recognise the data wasn’t collected for this purpose
    • enjoy the fact that is available
  • talk about it

Felix Ritchie

Business Data Linking

Office for National Statistics

1 Drummond Gate

London SW1V 1QQ

[email protected]

[email protected]