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CHER - Consortium of Household Panels for European Socio-Economic Research

Background

Panel data for Europe exists, but access is still difficult, expensive and sometimes restricted. The main obstacle for micro analytic comparative research on European issues is that national data is not directly comparable, and not completely comparable to the European Community Household Panel (ECHP).

In addition, most existing micro data is not explicitly linked to information about national regulations, or to social, economic and demographic data. Careful interpretation of results from cross-national research using micro data requires analyses of macro and meso data too. This has to be provided by government agencies in the respective countries.

The lack of sufficient user-friendly longitudinal data that is comparable, well documented and closely related to relevant macro and meso information has important consequences. It means that comparative analysis of European issues is still underdeveloped. Also, the potential for a cross-national database to compare the situation in one country with other countries is not fully exploited.

Policy objectives

The CHER database has been set up to carry out analysis of the dynamics of socioeconomic changes in Europe. The project’s primary objective is to develop a comparative micro database for longitudinal household studies, by integrating micro datasets from a large variety of independent national panels and from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). It can supply objective as well some subjective information on the process of change in various areas of life. A complementary database containing key information about macro data, social security and employment policies improves analysis of social policies. The potential of the CHER database for cross-national research is considerably greater than that of the ECHP. CHER also makes East–West comparisons possible.

Work undertaken

What can be learned from the policy approaches adopted in the different countries? What works where and what does not, and under what conditions? What trends can be identified? CHER set out to help analysts to find answers to these questions.

The prerequisite for high quality cross-national research is the availability of high quality micro databases that offer comparable data for the countries being studied. The team is creating a comparative database from existing panel data, using expost harmonisation, by integrating longitudinal datasets in Europe over as many years and from as many country household panels as possible. It is also using country data in the ECHP.

The database holds information from 18 countries (16 European Union Member States, plus Switzerland and the United States). It contains relevant variables from original panel data. The information is being made comparable according to a common plan, and is built by using standardised international classifications where these are available. The comparative database contains identical data for each country. Information in the CHER files is available for households and individuals on the micro level for single years, and as longitudinal information.

CHER is being complemented by key data about social security from the Mutual Information System on Social Security (MISSOC), and data on employment policies from the Mutual Information System on Employment Policies (MISEP).

The CHER database is available on CD-Rom. Each country file has been anonymised and can therefore be rated as a file for scientific use. The consortium has set up an Internet site about household panel studies, which also contains information about different countries’ social security and employment policies.

Because of its longitudinal structure, CHER makes it possible to describe the dynamics of households and individuals and to estimate the transitions of households and individuals. The CHER consortium also has the task of running exemplary (panel) analyses.

CHER is a powerful tool for monitoring policy decisions. It is generating great interest among decision-makers in the public and private sectors, within the Commission and in individual Member States.

Key outcomes / conclusions

As a data management and infrastructure tool, the CHER assists policy-makers. It also contributes to the knowledge base.

The project managers use CHER to undertake comparative research with panel data. It makes cross-national research possible, on a wide range of socioeconomic issues. Researchers can start with complete data, rather than trying to bring together smaller amounts of material from different sources – a process that is repetitive, expensive and inefficient.

The advantage of longitudinal panel information compared to cross-sectional information is that it can be used to analyse socioeconomic dynamics at the micro level. CHER can deal with changes affecting households and individuals and estimate possible trends. The database enables researchers to do in-country comparisons at the same time as cross-national comparisons. It means that it will now be possible to focus on what is unique in nations and on differences between nations, as well as analysing on national similarities.

The consortium ensured that the data was orientated towards research needs. It also conducted analysis on labour market problems and corresponding social security transfers. It explored how welfare and employment regimes in Europe coped with socioeconomic changes during the 1990s and how different government’s policies might affect a country’s economic and social performance. The East-West analysis looked at economic and labour market performances, and how different regimes handled income, poverty and deprivation issues.

CHER is innovative in its focus on the social and economic performances of governments over time. It has also broken new ground with the comparison of mature systems of welfare state capitalism and former socialist economies.

Dissemination

The CHER database is available for the European social science community under appropriate rules for confidentiality and data protection. However, its availability is restricted due to Eurostat regulations, which currently do not allow CHER data coming from the ECHP to be disseminated to researchers outside the CHER consortium.

A CDRom was produced, and a website set up at http://www.ceps.lu/Cher/acceuil.cfm

Publications' list

  • Sixteen research papers have been produced. The first is:
  • Schmaus, G., Birch, A., Fisher, K., Frick, J., Haag, A., Schaber, G., Kuchler, B. and Villeret, A. under support of Hegerle, N. and Lefebure, S., ‘The CHER project’, CHER Working paper 1, CEPS/INSTEAD, Differdange, G.-D. Luxembourg, 2003.
  • They can be downloaded at:
  • http://www.ceps.lu/publication/categorie.cfm?cat=18
Full titleCHER: Consortium of Household Panels for European Socioeconomic Research
Project AcronymCHER
Contract number99-00037
Project TypeRP
ProgrammeKA
Keywordshousehold panels, comparative micro database, households, individuals, longitudinal, macro data, institutional data, labour market dynamics, ECHP, national data, data and indicators, databases, family structures, education, employment, income distribution, poverty, age
Main contractorCentre D'etudes De Populations, De Pauvreté Et De Politiques Socio-Economiques
CEPS/INSTEAD
44, Rue Emile Mark (B.P. 48)
L-4501 Differdange
Luxembourg
Phone: +352 585855-1
Fax.: +352 585560
Scientific Coor.Schmaus Günther
gunther.schmaus@ci.rech.lu
Websitehttp://www.ceps.lu/Cher/acceuil.cfm
Partners' List
  • Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Berlin
    Germany
  • Institute for Social and Economic Research
    Colchester, United Kingdom
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
    Paris, France
  • Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata
    Italy
  • Universidad Carlos Tercero de Madrid
    Spain
  • Social Research Informatics Centre
    Budapest, Hungary
  • Warsaw University
    Poland
  • Katholieke Universiteit Brabant
    Tilburg, The Netherlands
  • University of Antwerp
    Belgium
  • National Centre for Social Research
    Athens, Greece
  • Université de Neuchâtel
    Switzerland
Start Date2000-02-01
End Date2003-07-31
EC Contribution€1 098 746
EC Scientific OfficerAndrea Schmolzer
Final ReportDownload PDF PDF icon - [2328 Kb]