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Welcome to the CENEX Statistical Methodology Project

Area “Integration of survey and administrative data”


In 2005 Eurostat has launched the idea of establishing European Centres and Networks of Excellence (CENEX) in the field of Statistics as a way to reinforce cooperation between National Statistical Institutes. In this way the various institutes in Europe could benefit from each others experiences and together raise the level of their statistical production process.

This CENEX project, cofinanced by Eurostat, will be a one and a half year project and be active from December 2006 to June 2008. The area of interest of this CENEX is integration of surveys and administrative data (ISAD).

The reason for this CENEX is that there is more statistical data produced in today’s modern society than ever before. This data is analysed and cross-referenced for innumerable reasons. In the case of National Institutes of Statistics the joint analysis of two or more statistical and administrative sources is a result of a rational organization of all available informative sources and, among all, it allows the reduction of survey costs and the response burden. However, many data sets are sometimes hard to combine: errors in the record identifiers or lack of record identifiers may jeopardize any meaningful integrated use of the data sets.

The combination of different surveys or of surveys with  administrative data need to be analyzed by appropriate statistical methodologies. Grossly speaking, two main procedures can be considered:

  • Record linkage: complete records at unit level are obtained fusing records of two or more data sets with appropriate unit identifiers. In this setting, two broad groups of methods can be considered:
    • exact record linkage (also known as exact matching)
    • probabilistic record linkage.
  • Statistical matching: complete (synthetic) records at unit level are obtained with appropriate imputation procedures, where the data sets to integrate play the role of respectively donor and recipient files.

Once a match has been produced, it may be appropriate to use actions that ensure better quality of the matched results. These actions are usually called

  • Micro integration processing: quality and timeliness of the matched files; defining checks; editing procedures to get better estimates; imputation procedures to get better estimates; weighting (to population totals) issues of matched files

The field of integration of different sources is in continuous development. Challenging problems need still to be tackled from the methodological point of view, as well as the accuracy assessment of the integration methodologies. A careful assessment of the available sources is needed in order to understand whether integration procedures can be successful. At the same time, these methods need the development of appropriate software resources. Up to now, these resources, with some exception, are mostly ad hoc.

Usefulness of this project for the NSIs in the ESS

Methodologies for the integration of different sources are becoming increasingly popular in National Statistical institutes. Many ESS Member States currently apply, or plan to apply, integration methodologies for the most diverse aspects, as construction of virtual censuses, study of enterprise demography, and construction of social accounting matrices. Despite other methodological themes (as sampling, treatment of missing data, and quality), integration of different sources is a relatively new topic, and a common methodological basis is still missing. This CENEX is an opportunity for providing the ESS Member States with a common basis for the application of integration methodologies. This objective will be pursued by disseminating practical guidelines, as well as by training relevant ESS researchers. Furthermore, a workshop will be organized. Finally, the high level of expertise of participating countries will allow a close partnership on the identification of knowledge gaps that need to be fixed, and on possible methodological developments.

Involved Institutions

Work programme

The work in this CENEX will be divided into 4 topics

  1. Elaborate a representative inventory of the state-of-the-art on methodologies for the integration of survey and administrative data
  2. Produce recommendations/handbooks on harmonized standards for integration methods, the necessary prerequisites for their application, standards on the accuracy evaluations of the integration methods
  3. Produce a list of software tools for integration methodologies
  4. Develop communication activities and raise awareness on integration methods in the ESS


  • December 2006 – June 2008

Output, reports and results of the CENEX-ISAD project: