Households statistics - LFS series (lfst_hh)

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)

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

Unit F3: Labour market

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 19/06/2014
2.2. Metadata last posted 19/06/2014
2.3. Metadata last update 19/06/2014

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The data collection 'LFS - specific topics, household statistics' covers a range of statistics on number, characteristics and typologies of households, based on the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS). The data collection also encompasses some labour market indicators broken down by household composition. Only annual data are available.

General information on the EU-LFS can be found in the ESMS page for 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)', see link in related metada. Detailed information on the main features, the legal basis, the methodology and the data as well as on the historical development of the EU-LFS is available on the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage.

3.2. Classification system

The EU-LFS results are produced in accordance with the relevant international classification systems. The classification for education is ISCED 1997 and ISCED 2011 (from 2014) for the level and field of education. Actual coding in the EU-LFS may deviate to some extent from those general standards; for more details on classifications (including the comparability between the revised classifications), levels of aggregation and transition rules, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology >> classification.

3.3. Coverage - sector

As a general rule the EU-LFS covers all economic sectors.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The definitions of employment and unemployment, as well as other survey characteristics follow the definitions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation. The definition of unemployment is further precised in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1897/2000.

For a description of the household composition, please consult the LFS User Guide on the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology; for more general information on the EU-LFS, please consult the  EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage.

3.5. Statistical unit

Persons and households.

3.6. Statistical population

The EU-LFS results cover the total population usually residing in Member States, except for persons living in collective or institutional households. While demographic data are gathered for all age groups, questions relating to labour market status are restricted to persons in the age group of 15 years or older, household statistics related to labour market status are restricted even to adults according the HHPERS household variable (HHPERS definition can be found in the LFS User Guide on the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology. For the EFTA countries participating in LFS, i.e. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, no household data is available.  

3.7. Reference area

European Union, Euro area, the 28 EU-Member States, three EFTA countries (Iceland, which at the same time is a candidate country, Norway and Switzerland), and two acceding and candidate countries, i.e. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. Data for Cyprus refer only to the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Since 2014, data for France include also the French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, La Réunion), with the exception of Mayotte.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Data are available from 2005 onwards.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Most indicators measure number of persons or households (thousands). Some indicators are reported as rates (employment, unemployment rates).

5. Reference Period Top

The reference period is the year.

The EU-LFS is designed as a continuous quarterly survey with interviews spread uniformly over all weeks of a quarter. The reference week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. By convention, the first week of the year is the week including the first Thursday, and the 1st reference quarter consists of 13 consecutive weeks starting from that week. Therefore reference quarter corresponds to the calendar quarter. Exceptions are Ireland and the United Kingdom, which used until 2006 the seasonal quarter (Dec-Feb, Mar-May, Jun-Aug, Sep-Nov). Built in this way, the quarterly sample is spread uniformly over all weeks of the quarter. Annual data encompass the four reference quarters in the year.

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

The EU-LFS is based on European legislation since 1973. It's implementation is governed by legislative acts of the Council and Parliament, as well as of the Commission. The principal legal act is the Council Regulation (EC) No. 577/98. The implementation rules are specified in the successive Commission regulations. This is the main regulation with provisions on design, survey characteristics and decision making processes. For more details on the regulations, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Main features and legal basis.

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

EU-LFS microdata as received by Eurostat from the national statistical institutes does not contain any administrative information such as names or addresses that would allow direct identification. Access to this microdata is nevertheless strictly controlled and limited to specified Eurostat staff. After data treatment, records are aggregated for all further use.

For more information on publications guidelines and thresholds, please consult: EU-LFS - Data and publications.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

A release calendar for the EU-LFS main indicators is in place, foreseeing the release of the main indicators four weeks after the data delivery deadline. The release of EU-LFS household data is not bound by an advance release calendar.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

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 - 'Dissemination format') 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


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

Not applicable.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

For more details on publications, please consult: EU-LFS - Data and publications.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or refer to

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

EU-LFS anonymised microdata are available for research purposes. Please refer to access to microdata.

10.5. Dissemination format - other


10.6. Documentation on methodology

For a detailed description of methods and concepts used, as well as for other documents related to the EU-LFS, please consult the  EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage.

The EU-LFS disseminates also publications on the methodology of the survey. For more information please consult: Quality reports and methodological publications.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

see section 11.1.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in related metadata section).

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in related metadata section).

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

EU-LFS results are used by the DG Employment and a number of other Directorates of the Commission mainly for measurement and monitoring of policy agendas purposes. Key users include NSI's, international organizations, news agencies and researchers which use of various aspects of EU-LFS data for international or intra EU comparisons. Finally, LFS data are used by Eurostat for compiling detailed regional indicators, for estimates on current education and education levels, higher education and research, and for accurate estimates of labour input of national accounts.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Eurostat does not carry out satisfaction survey targeted at users of labour markets statistics. All new requests for labour market statistics are subject to scrutiny by the national experts and representatives of the NSIs and in particular for major topics of interest, for social research the instrument of ad hoc modules is used. The main institutional users other than the Commission are also known to the unit for Labour Market Statistics. Many of them are frequently consulted on various aspects of development and dissemination of labour force statistics.

12.3. Completeness

Even if otherwise adhering to the EU regulations on the EU-LFS, countries do not always provide data for all the variables. This can be for various reasons, such as assessment that the variable in question is irrelevant to the labour market situation in the country or (temporary) inability to implement the variable in the national questionnaire.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The overall accuracy is considered as high. Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in related metadata section).

13.2. Sampling error

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in related metadata section).

13.3. Non-sampling error

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in related metadata section).

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Data are released approximately 6 months after the end of the reference period.

14.2. Punctuality

For 2012 throughout all EU-LFS countries data were transmitted to Eurostat within an average of 66 days.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Comparability across countries is considered as high. The EU-LFS uses output harmonisation. This means that the EU issues standards for the output of the LFS in the Member States, but those standards do not impose a single way of designing or conducting the survey. In practice, the EU standards regard the list of variables and categories, the minimum sampling precision, the observation period (i.e. a reference week and the survey must collect data referring to every week in the year), the periodicity of the survey, and reporting obligations of data and quality reports to Eurostat. The comparability across countries is achieved in the EU-LFS through various regulations ensuring the output harmonisation.

For more details, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Data and publication.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Comparability over time for the published years is considered as high.

For more details, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Data and publication

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

The ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' provides general explanations of coherence between EU-LFS, population statistics, national accounts employment and business surveys employment (see link below in related metadata section).

15.4. Coherence - internal

EU-LFS estimates for a given reference period have full internal coherence, as they are all based on the same corpus of microdata and they calculated using the same estimation methods. Arithmetic and accounting identities in the production of LFS datasets are observed.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

The indicators in this domain are revised whenever revised Labour Force Survey data become available. Revisions of previously released data are not expected, unless major errors are identified in the data delivered or in their processing. Exceptional revisions may happen e.g. after new estimates of population from a population census.  

17.2. Data revision - practice

For information on EU-LFS data revisions, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Data and publication.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The EU-LFS is a rotating random sample survey of persons in private households. The sampling units are dwellings, households or individuals depending on the sampling frame. Different schemes are used to sample the units, ranging from the simple random sampling method to complex stratified multi-stage sampling methods of clusters. Most countries use a variant of the two-stage stratified random sampling of household units.

Participation in the survey is compulsory in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia, Norway, and Turkey. Part of the data can be supplied by equivalent information from alternative sources, including administrative registers, provided the data obtained are of equivalent quality. Typically, the Nordic countries supply the demographic information directly from their population registers.

The sample size amounts approximately to 1800 thousands of individuals each quarter. The quarterly sampling rates vary between 0.2% and 3.6% in each country.  

Eurostat started collection of LFS micro-data in 1983 with one reference quarter per year (spring). In the period from 1998 to 2005, the survey underwent a transition to a continuous quarterly survey. Since 2010, all participating countries provide quarterly results.

For more information please consult the corresponding LFS quality reports.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Since early 2000's, the EU-LFS has quarterly periodicity, previously it was an annual survey run in spring. Since the survey became quarterly, it includes both quarterly variables and annual variables (i.e. collected only once a year). The variables on household composition, which are used to estimate the data in this collection, are collected annually.

18.3. Data collection

Data are acquired by interviewing the sampled individuals directly. Four modes of data collection exist for the EU-LFS: personal visits, telephone interviews, web interviews and self-administered questionnaires. Half of the participating countries conduct the first wave always or mainly via personal visit, while subsequent waves are interviewed with telephone, if available.

Most countries conduct the interview only with computerized questionnaires. Four use both computerized and paper questionnaires and five countries rely solely on paper questionnaires.

For more information please consult the corresponding LFS quality reports.

18.4. Data validation

Prior to the dissemination of the national data, Eurostat checks the quality and consistency of data transmitted by National Statistical Institutes. Eurostat calculates LFS results and they are then validated by the Member States. Afterwards they are published.

18.5. Data compilation

EU and Euro area aggregates are calculated aggregating totals from Member Sates. For the data expressed in absolute values for each quarter (i.e. number of persons) no weighting is used. Rates/Ratios are subsequently calculated from the data expressed in absolute values (i.e. number of persons).

18.6. Adjustment

No adjustments are made.

19. Comment Top

No notes.

Related metadata Top
employ_esms - Employment and unemployment (Labour Force Survey)

Annexes Top
EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage (additional metadata information)