City statistics (urb)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)
National metadata

National reference metadata

National metadata produced by countries and released by Eurostat

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

E4: Regional statistics and geographical information

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 12/05/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 12/05/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 12/05/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Data on European cities were collected in the Urban Audit and in the Large City Audit project. The projects' ultimate goal is to contribute towards the improvement of the quality of urban life: it supports the exchange of experience among European cities; it helps to identify best practices; it facilitates benchmarking at the European level and provides information on the dynamics within the cities and with their surroundings.

At the city level, the Urban Audit contains 171 variables and 62 indicators. These indicators are derived from the variables collected by the European Statistical System.

The data is published in 20 tables within 2 main groups, plus a perception survey table:
Cities and greater cities (urb_cgc)

Population on 1 January by age groups and sex - cities and greater cities (urb_cpop1)
Population structure - cities and greater cities (urb_cpopstr)
Population by citizenship and country of birth - cities and greater cities (urb_cpopcb)
Fertility and mortality - cities and greater cities (urb_cfermor)

Living conditions - cities and greater cities (urb_clivcon)

Education - cities and greater cities (urb_ceduc)

Culture and tourism - cities and greater cities (urb_ctour)
Labour market - cities and greater cities (urb_clma)
Economy and finance - cities and greater cities (urb_cecfi)
Transport - cities and greater cities (urb_ctran)
Environment - cities and greater cities (urb_cenv)

Functional Urban Area (urb_luz)

Population on 1 January by age groups and sex - Functional Urban Area (urb_lpop1)
Population structure - Functional Urban Area (urb_lpopstr)
Population by citizenship and country of birth - Functional Urban Area (urb_lpopcb)
Fertility and mortality - Functional Urban Area (urb_lfermor)
Living conditions - Functional Urban Area (urb_llivcon)
Education - Functional Urban Area (urb_leduc)
Labour market - Functional Urban Area (urb_llmma)
Transport - Functional Urban Area (urb_ltran)
Environment - Functional Urban Area (urb_lenv)

Perception survey results (urb_percep)

Data has been collected on four spatial levels in the Urban Audit:

  • The City (C) according to the administrative definition, as the basic level,
  • The Functional Urban Area (FUA) being an approximation of the functional urban zone centered around the city, and
  • In some cases, the urban centre stretches far beyond its boundaries. To better capture the entire urban centre, a 'greater city' level (K), has been created. This level was created for some capitals and several other large cities.
  • The Sub-City District (SCD) being a subdivision of the city according to population criteria.
3.2. Classification system

Specific classification and coding systems have been developed for the spatial units and for the variables and indicators.

  • Classification system for variables:

A variable is the data collected by the national statistical offices of the countries. The variable data serves as the raw data for the calculation of the indicators. The variables serve as either the numerator or denominator of the indicator equation, depending on how this has been defined. Variables are labeled as follows:

Variable DE1040V - "Population on the 1st of January, 0-4 years, total"


Domain code




V (for variable)


  • Classification system for indicators:

Indicators are labeled in a similar way to variables, except that the names end with an I to identify them as indicators:

Indicator DE1040I - "Proportion of population aged 0-4 years"


Domain code




I (for indicator)


  • Classification system for the spatial units

The city code consists of a 2-digit country code, a 3-digit city code and a final C1/C2 for Central City - for FUA an L1/L2 is used and for SCD a D.

In 2012 the version number 1 was given to cities and LUZ where no considerable changes (population change by more than 1%) were made compared to the 2004 definition and 2 was given where considerable changes were made.

Data on Sub-City District (SCD) is collected and will be disseminated at a later stage.

Each Sub-City district will have the city code plus a unique number afterwards to identify the individual Sub-City District within the city. Thus, each sub-city unit will have a unique code.

In the Urban Audit, some cities have 2 sub-city levels. For this reason, 5 extra positions are used for sub-cities. The total length of the sub-city code is 11 characters, as shown in the example bellow:

Spatial Unit



















3.3. Coverage - sector

The indicators and variables cover several aspects of quality of life, e.g., demography, housing, health, economic activity, labour market, income disparity, educational qualifications, environment, climate, travel patterns, tourism and cultural infrastructure.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

For most of the indicators, existing international standards have been followed as far as possible.

3.5. Statistical unit

In the Urban Audit data is collected for cities.

The OECD and the European Commission developed a new harmonised definition of a city and its commuting zone in 2011. This new OECD-EC definition identified almost 1 000 cities with an urban centre of at least 50 000 inhabitants in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.

3.6. Statistical population

For most variables the target statistical universe is  the usual residents of a geographical area (city). For the detailed description of variables see the Methodological Manual on City Statistics.

3.7. Reference area

EU Member States, Switzerland, Norway and Turkey are represented in the data collection.

3.8. Coverage - Time

The time coverage is 1989-- . All data is annual.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

The unit of measurement varies from indicator to indicator; from variable to variable. In most cases the unit of measurement is included in the label.

5. Reference Period Top

2014, 2011, 2008, 2004 and 2001 are the reference years for the main data collection. 1996 and 1991 were the the reference years for the "historical" data collection. Few variables have been collected on annual bases for the period 2005-2012.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Visit the Portal to European Union Law

All data supply of urban statistics is based on a voluntary agreement, as there is no Community legislation yet on this topic

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

From 2017 new data will be published the first day of every month.

8.2. Release calendar access

The date of data release is disseminated on Eurostat's website (select language and release calendar).

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

The periodicity of the data is 3-years. A few indicators are collected annually.

The database is updated continually the first day of every month, depending on the data availability of new and revised data.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

There are ad-hoc news releases to the data set. 

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Methodological publications:

Eurostat regional yearbook 2016
Eurostat regional yearbook 2015
Eurostat regional yearbook 2014, Chapter 14
Eurostat regional yearbook 2013, Chapters 12 and 13
Eurostat regional yearbook 2012, Chapter 12
Eurostat regional yearbook 2011, Chapter 6
Eurostat regional yearbook 2010, Chapter 2

Analytical publications:

Urban Europe - Statistics on cities, towns and suburbs (2016)
The state of European Cities Report (2016)

Quality of life in cities - Perception survey in 79 European cities - European Commission, Flash Eurobarometer 366, October 2013
Investment for jobs and growth: 6th report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, July 2014
The State of European Cities Report (2010)
The State of European Cities Report (2007)

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other


10.6. Documentation on methodology

See Methodological Manual on City statistics.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Quality is assessed on a regular basis. The assessment is summarized in reports.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

In order to assure a high data quality, existing validation procedures have been analysed and adapted to recent standards. A complete set of validation rules have been developed.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Quality is assessed on a regular basis. The assessment is summarized in reports.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

User needs and stakeholder requirements are collected at several forums. Comments and contributions are welcome to be sent to the contact.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

User feedback is collected at several forums. Comments and contributions are welcome to be sent to the contact.

12.3. Completeness

Data availability differs from domain to domain.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Not applicable.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Depends on the domain and individual indicator. As a general rule, timeliness is about 24 months.

14.2. Punctuality

In some cases a time lag between the actual delivery of the data and the target date when it should have been delivered occurs. There are no legal deadlines to deliver the data.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The approach of collecting data from existing sources makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve comparability of variables over the entire "population".

The National Urban Audit Coordinators did their best to achieve comparability of urban data, at least within their own country. Wherever it was not possible, attempts were made to estimate the data. Due to the sometimes deviating definitions and different data sources used the comparability of data is limited to some extent.

15.2. Comparability - over time

For the cities included into the data collection in 2011 only a subset of the indicators are available.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Data collected at sub-national level is coherent with the data collected at national level to a limited extent due to the different data sources used.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Internal coherence (e.g. between spatial levels, between indicators like total, male, female population) is ensured through the application of multivariate and univariate validation controls.

16. Cost and Burden Top

The data collection is based on administrative data so the main burden is on the Statistical Institutes.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

No preliminary data is published.

17.2. Data revision - practice

As the Urban data cover is very extensive, it can not be excluded that errors exist in the data.
Detected errors are corrected continually.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Data is collected by National (or Regional) Statistical Office, by the town or city, or from another source. In most cases, data has been obtained from censuses, different administrative and statistical registers, national and local databases in the individual cities and sample basis.

In some cases, data has been obtained from a sample survey. Some variables have been estimated. Most indicators have been calculated by Eurostat. Accessibility indicators were calculated by ESPON. Air quality indicators are based on AirBase figures.

Variable list
18.2. Frequency of data collection

Data is collected annually, but many indicators are only avilable for census years.

18.3. Data collection

Data has been collected by the National Urban Audit Coordinators (NUACs), one in each country, on behalf of Eurostat. The NUACs have collected data from available sources in the national statistical office, other state agencies or ministries, from the cities concerned or from private sources. Some data has been estimated by the NUACs. Some data has been estimated by Eurostat.

The details of the data collection are expalined in the Annex data collection workflow.

Data collection workflow
18.4. Data validation

For a complete description of the data validation see annex.

Different data checks are done before publication:

  • Type check: Data fields designed for numbers can only accept numbers.
  • Length check: Data fields contain allowed length of data. Eg. country code is 2 characters.
  • Presence check: Controls all data fields are present.
  • Uniqueness checks: Controls that certain fields do not take duplicate values.
  • Code list check: Only defined variables and geographical codes are accepted.
  • Consistency checks: values of related variables must be consistent.
  • Range check: values should be within a defined range.
  • Balance check: Sum of values for subgroups should be equal to the total. Eg population; male + female = total
  • Spatial level control check: Comparison of geographical aggregates at different levels. Eg; value for Larger Urban Zone should be higher than value for the City.
  • Time series check: Finds unusual evolution over time.

Validation rules
18.5. Data compilation

National Statistical Offices compile the data.

The indicator calculation includes

  • Calculation of ratios - example: Demographic dependency

The list of indicators and the calculation is included in the annex.

Indicator list
18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable. No adjustments are implemented.

19. Comment Top

To facilitate understanding of the data, the flags that are used in the metadata are shown below.

Data source:
N  Not significant
Z  Not applicable
:   Not available

Restrictions concerning the data:
B  Break in time series
C  Confidential data
D  Definition differs, see metadata
F  Forecast
P  Provisional data
R  Revised (phased out)
U  Low reliabilty

Statistical basis:
S  Eurostat estimate (phased out)
E  Estimated

I  See metadata (phased out)

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top
List of Cities, Kernels, FUA - 2017