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INEbase / European Union Household Panel / General methodology

Scope and units
Concepts and definitions

Design of the sample



European Union Household Panel (EUHP) belongs to the ever more complete set of harmonised statistical operations for European Union countries. In this case, given the previous inexistence of fixed household panels in Spain and in the majority of participating countries, harmonisation has occurred from the same initiations of the project.

The carrying out of EUHP will facilitate making available to the European Commission a first order statistical instrument (a statistical system had never used a fixed and harmonised panel of this dimension, some 70,000 households for the whole EU). This will be used in order to follow social cohesion where its scope applies, the study of the needs of the population and impact of social and economic policies on households and persons as well as for the design of new policies.

EUHP uses fixed panel techniques, suitable in order to satisfy the planned objectives, despite the additional difficulties with respect to other types of surveys, especially in relation to following up persons who remain in the sample (panel) during its successive cycles.



The European Union Household Panel (EUHP) is a new source of statistical information on a community level which reinforces the current statistical infrastructure from the European Union Statistical Office (EUROSTAT), in order to respond to the necessities of the Commission of making entry information available for the formulation of its social policy in different dominions and in order to follow the effects of these policies throughout the whole European Union (EU).

After various preparatory studies and conferences in 1990/1991/1992, in 1993 two waves of a pilot project took place, in order to establish in 1994 the first cycle of a Panel which initially was thought of in three cycles (1994, 1995 and 1996) and which is currently being extended to 9 in all member states.

The preparatory studies were mainly orientated to optimally use the data which already existed both on a national level and on a community level mainly concentrating on analysing the possibilities of meeting the information needs established by means of the most important available information sources. In principle, they will be similar to: the Active Population Survey (APS), the Family Budgets Survey (FBS) and the administrative sources which contain information on the income of family and persons, in each member state.

In the case of the APS, the absence of data on income, the inconvenience of overloading questionnaires more or the difficulty of adapting it for multiple purposes, given its speciality in the study of the labour market, invalidate it as the project instrument which we are dealing with.

As for the FBS, a harmonisaton and homogenity level similar to the ASP has still not been achieved between countries.

The use of the APS in order to satisfy specific needs by the Commission, which requires total homogeneity in the capture of data within each country, apart from adaptations to other fields of investigation, was also rejected as unviable.

It is known that the limitation of administrative sources is limited, not only as a comparable source of income, but also in other fields of social policy, due to the different legislation, definition of concepts and coverage of the population in each country.

So, a new statistical operation had to be carried out, harmonised on a community level and coordinated by EUROSTAT but, this said, integrated in a statistical sense with the rest of the surveys directed to households (APS, FBS) and with other types of national and EU statistical information. This means, especially that the concepts and definitions, study population and other methodological aspects will have to be designed ensuring statistical coherence of the various surveys and classification of other information systems, such as National Accounts System (NAS) and social protection statistical systems (SPROSS).

Once the decision on the need for a new household survey has been taken, consideration is given, in light of the requirements of users, to the survey going beyond the traditional instantaneous transversal information, facilitating obtaining longitudinal information. In other words referring to the same households and persons in different moments over time. This will facilitate getting to know gross change (on an individual level) of interest variables and, not only its net change, apart from the study of transitions, durations and intervals among events, from the Panel approach.

The advantages of this conception are very important in relation to the relatively low net increment in cost; in particular, the first cycle (1994) does not imply any additional cost on the traditional modality of the transversal survey.

The Panel facilitates following the same persons and the same households over time, to study what changes in their lives when conditions and socioeconomic policies are modified and how they react to these changes. Given that the efficacy of the political measures is influenced greatly by the manner in which the interested parties react to these measurements, the EUHP will supply important indications on the effects of the socioeconomic policies in the framework of the Single Market.

The EUHP has been designed in consultation with all member states, by means of the national statistics institutes which constitute the socalled National Data Units (NDU). This is given that this type of survey requires a scientific and technical capacity, as well as previous statistical apparatus only available in central statistical offices.

In comparision with a transversal survey, the main advantage of the panel is in relation to income is that it facilitates studying development models of the same, whether this is due to the political measures taken in the framework of the Single Market, in particular in its social dimension, whether this is due to the appearance of significant events in the life of the interested parties. This characteristic of the panel facilitates studying to what extent the changes in the income from various sources (salaries, social protection), are affected by political interventions or important private events such as a change in job, inter-regional and national migrations, modification of the composition of the first household or successive marriages, separation of the couple, deaths, departure of children from household...

At the same time, thanks to dynamic data collection on income, quality of life and poverty, the EUHP will constitute an important statistical instrument for information on permanent poverty and social exclusion.

The education-training-employment relationship which cannot be appropriately considered with a series of transversal studies, is also collected in this panel, with the objective of analysing the school-work transition and evaluating the efficacy of professional traning policies on the employment-retirement transition, unemployment-employment, work incapacity and labour social services. This will facilitate the impact of policies on retirement, the labour market and social security in the EU.

The studies on the dynamic of poverty have noted that the incidence of the population in a persistent state of poverty is limited and that the mobility of households between situations of poverty and non-poverty is sufficiently important which can be determined by means of the information coming from the Panel.

The EUHP will facilitate illustrating certain characteristics on the impact of social services and the role of aid for women to enter the labour market.

The surveys panel is also a valuable source for the study of the phenomenon of long term unemployment, in relation to human capital and reintegration into labour activity after this type of unemployment.

The previous reasons, plus others derived from the experience of countries in which household panel type surveys already have a certain tradition, were taken to the EU Commission for approval to carry out the EUHP. This with the support of central statistics offices of member states, whose statistical system will also be enriched with this research.



The general objective of EUHP is to make availale to the European Commission a statistical observation instrument for the study and follow up of quality of life, labour market conditions and social cohesion in relation to the information requirements of active EU policies in these fields and their effects on population.

The EUHP is oriented to supplying comparable and harmonised information on the following aspects of life quality and conditions and social cohesion:

Income and mobility due to income. Economic situation.

The EUHP will supply information on income, its distribution by virtue of certain basic characteristics, social mobility profiles due to these and financial situation of the population, in particular:

Distribution of income level according to persons and households
Distribution of its components, according to persons and households
Development of the distribution of income over time by socioeconomic group
Characteristics of social mobility due to income, according to persons and households
Contribution of different income sources to the inequality of its distribution
Relationship between household characteristics and inequality with respect to income
Causes of inequality in income and development of these over time.
Level of social protection services in relation to income level and development over time
Financial situation of the household, indebtedness and savings
Housing and equipment

Poverty, privatisation, minimal protection and equality of treatment

The EUHP will have to supply transversal, longitudinal and homogeneous statistical information in all EU countries for the study of poverty, deprivation, minimal social protection and equality of treatment. These subjects are the main preoccupation in the framework of social dimension of the national market. From this panel a set of comparative indicators will be obtained which should allow politicians to follow development in those fields of interest.

With respect to poverty and deprivation, knowledge on the following will be obtained:

The incidence of poverty and deprivation according to various lines of poverty and deprivation
The social distribution of the risk of poverty and deprivation, according to various explanatory variables
Composition of the poor population
Subjective perception of poverty and other situations
The incidence of permanent poverty in relation to transitory poverty and to transitions outside and within poverty
The social distribution of the risk of permanent or long term poverty
Development, in persons and households, of the risks of deprivation over time
Relationship between indicators of shortage and its consequences (in health, education, social participation)

With respect to minimal protection, the information which will be obtained is relative to:

Appropriation of social protection services by sector, in order to ensure minimal protection
Appropriation of the different minimal protection systems in the EU according to a longitudinal perspective

With respect to the equality of treatment of men and women, the information to be obtained refers to:

Development of the single parent family according to the number of persons in their care (minors and others)
Development of feminine activity rates and wage differences
Changes in the distribution of non remunerated work and other activities
Status of the woman in the social protection system, according to indicators of results relative to the incidence of poverty, minimal protection, average services by sex, as well as other demographic and socioeconomic indicators

Employment, activity, permanent professional training and labour migrations.

The EUHP offers a great opportunity to observe and analyse the development of the labour market in the EU. Moreover, information is also taken on short term job movements; specifically, data will be obtained on:

Various types of unemployment: short term, long term and part time employment
Return to work from occasional unemployment
Causes and characteristics of part time employment
Impact of placement agencies on the result of employment search
Causes of the employment/unemployment rotation

The study of the following will be dealt with in relation to activity:

Male and female activity rates according to other research variables
Frequency and causes of activity-inactivity transitions and viceversa

The following will be studied with respect to professional training and labour migrations:

Professional training systems
The trends and causes of changes in residence for work reasons

Retirement, pensions and socioeconomic status of elderly persons.

These questions, of importance for the panel objectives are joined to others quoted previously (poverty, social protection).

The following be studied with respect to retirement:

The existing differences according to retirement regimes for persons older than 50
Ther determining factors of early retirement

As for pensions:

Distribution of the main sources of income for elderly persons
Composition of retirement pensions according to socioeconomic and sociodemographic indicators
Development of retirement pension over time by age group
Distribution and development of income coming from pension plans or private insurance

And with respect to the socioeconomic status of elderly persons, the panel is also orientated to obtaining information on:

Life conditions of elderly persons according to various socioeconomic indicators (housing, health, social integration, subjective appreciation of well being)
Determining factors of the development of life conditions due to the important events such as the death of a spouse or an illness
State of health and health care

Level of training and effects on socioeconomic condition. Both the microdata operation, from elementary registries such as the aggregated use of EUHP, will supply abundant information on aspects of training and education - both availabilities and demand for human capital - as on the temporal or dynamic approach for training.

Specifically, transversal uses of the panel will supply information on:

General level of training of the population, with international perspective
Existing relationship between the level of training and socioeconomic status; study of the levels of training according to international classifications and by sex, age, training of parents, occupation and professional situation

Thedynamic analysis meets the information needs on:

Quality of the school-work transition
Stability of employment and frequency of job changes in relation to training
Development of income according to level of training

The previous list does not obviously cover many other possibilities of use which will be applied when the final files from the different survey cycles foreseen are available. At the same time, the use of the survey on a national level can be restricted as to some classifications, due to the already mentioned sample error associated with small sample sizes.

For some of the information that will be obtained for the whole European Union, there already exist, within countries, other more appropriate sources than the EUHP. The use of these operations (APS, FBS, censuses, administrative sources...) for their specific purposes will be preferable in some cases. Therefore it will not be necessary to carry out on a national level, uses in these areas of study from the EUHP, whose priority objectives try to cover the information needs of the Commission with reference to the whole European Union.


Scopes and units

A. Population scope

In the first cycle, the population object of the investigation is that of the set of private households who reside in main family households and the set of persons , members of the household, of the said households.

Although persons from all ages form part of the initial sample (objective population) not all persons are investigated exhaustively, as only persons who are household members born in 1977 or earlier are eligible for an exhaustive investigation.

The objective population in the second cycle is made up of:

Sample adults or panel adults: persons included in the first cycle sample, born in 1978 or earlier.
Sample children or panel children: persons included in the first cycle sample, born in 1979 or later and children born from carrying out the previous sample, as long as the mother is a sample adult (panel adult).
Cohabitants: Non-sample persons (persons who form part of the sample in the first cycle) who form part of the second cycle of households in which at least one member is a sample person

As with the first cycle, the same level of participation is not demanded from all persons in the survey. Thus for those persons who have institutionalised themselves or who have transferred to a country outside the European Union, only the date of transfer and basic demographic variables are registered; for persons who continue to live in private or group households but within the European Union exhaustive information will be collected or not, in agreement with the date of birth. In the second cycle the population investigated exhaustively is made up of persons born in 1978 or earlier.

In the third and successive cycles the panel persons which makes up the collaborating households from the previous cycle will be investigated to which will be added on the one hand the panel individuals who having collaborated in the first of the three cycles, have not collaborated in the second due to presenting one of the following incidences: absence of all household members, weak refusal to collaborate, incapacity to answer, not contacted due to having moved and new address not known, not contacted due to resident housing being inaccessible and on the other hand the persons who cohabit with panel persons.

Those individuals who are cohabitants in the second of the three cycles and have stopped being members of the household of an individual panel will not be the object of investigation. The panel individuals who live outside a European Union country or who are institutionalised indefinitely will be the object of a non-exhaustive investigation, collecting only follow up information for these persons.

The population investigated exhaustively (in the sense that individualised information is collected) is made up of persons who are 16 years or older on 1 January of the year when the survey is carried out.

B. Geographical scope

The geographical scope of the research constitutes the whole of Spain (except Ceuta and Melilla).

C. Temporary scope

The temporary scope understood as the period of data collection covers the months of October to December 1994 for the first cycle, while some of the households, due to localisation problems, were investigated during January 1995. The same months are investigated in successive cycles which will be carried out in 1995 and subsequent years.

The reference periods or time periods for those who collect the different characteristics investigated, are different for the various sections of the questionnaires. The following reference periods are distinguished:

a) The reference week, defined as the seven days previous to the start of household interviews.
b) The current moment, a term which is used mainly in questions related to activity and income.
c) The natural year previous to carrying out the survey is the period to which some questions from the Household Questionnaire related to non-work income and other individual questionnaire questions related to income last year are referred.
d) The biographical period of the subject as biographical information is collected in the survey for which the time period will be different for each subject.
e) In some isolated questionnaires information referring to other moments in time is collected such as for example the period of the last twelve months, and last four weeks,...

D. Analysis units

Two basic units of observation and analysis are considered: subjects, household members and private households who reside in main family households selected in the sample.

From the second cycle onwards, they are also incorporated into the panel, and therefore become part of the analysis units, new households (private or group) which have been formed or those which have incorporated persons from the first cycle sample, as well as persons who without forming part of the panel initially, live in the same.

E. Sample units

The censal definition of family housing has been taken, considering the censal section as a primary sample unit and the main family housing as the last sample unit, including in the sample all resident households in the main family households selected.


Concepts and definitions

A. Family housing

Any room or set of rooms and its outbuildings which occupy a building or a structurally separate section of the same is considered as family housing. Moreover that by the way in which they have been constructed, reconstructed or transformed, are destined to be inhabited by one or various households, and on the date of the interview are not used completely for other purposes. Also included in this definition:

Fixed accommodation: semipermanent or improvised buildings with waste materials (tins, boxes, etc.) or which have not been constructed or reformed in order to be used for residential purposes but constitute the main and habitual residence of one or various households (huts or cabins, shacks, stables, mills, garages, stores, caves or natural refuges).

Family housing existing within group housing as long as they are for management or administrative personnel or for the service of the group establishment.

B. Main family housing

All family housing which is used as the main residence for one or more households is considered main family housing.

C. Private household

The private household is defined as the person or persons whooccupy in common a main family housing or part of it, andconsume and/or share food or other goods on the same budget.

In agreement with this definition it must be taken into account that:

1) A private household may be made up by only one person (one person household) or by several (multiperson household).
2) Persons who make up the household may or may not be linked by relationships. Indeed, the household may be exclusively made up of single persons, by a family together with single persons or just by a family.
3) A private household is a set of persons who occupy a main family housing in common. Therefore the set of persons who live in a group establishment (hospital, hotel, school...), does not constitute a private household. However, bear in mind that within a group establishment building there may exist a household such as for example would be the case of the director of a prison who lives in it.
4) A private household is a group of persons who share expenses, in other words, who have a common budget. It is not considered that persons who have a partially independent budget form different households, if they share the majority of the main costs - household and/or food - with the other household members. It is understood in general that both those who contribute resources to the budget collaborating to pay common costs as well as those who do not contribute resources, have a common budget, depending on the common budget.
5) A restrictive and specific criterion is applied in this survey, it being considered that within the same housing reside various private households, only in the case of maintaining a separation of economies between them - them being autonomous with respect to all relevant expenses - and they occupy different and delimited areas of the housing although they use some common room (for example, housing with subletting or housing shared by two or more families who have independent budgets).

In this respect the following regulations should be borne in mind:

When only persons independent among themselves reside in the same housing and who use some or various rooms just for themselves and do not have a common budget (guests, subtenants...) it will be considered that each person constitutes a household as long as the number of said persons resident in the household is 5 or less. It will be considered for each person as an independent household and interviews will be carried out for each one of them. On the contrary when the number of persons with these characteristics resident in the household is greater than 5, the housing will not be considered as family housing, not resulting in any consequences for the survey.

When persons who exclusively use some or various rooms and who do not have a common budget live in the same housing (guests, subtenants...) and moreover other persons who between themselves constitute a household and have a common budget, it will be considered that on the one hand, the household made up by the persons who between themselves constitute a household. The rest of the persons resident in the same housing will be considered as independent households if their number is 5 or less. Interviews must be carried out for each one of them. Conversely, if the number of these persons is greater than 5, they will not be the object of investigation.

When students who do not have a common budget and who depend economically on another household live in the same household they will not be considered members of the household that is being surveyed but rather that money is contributed so that they can cover their costs. In this case if the household is occupied exclusively by persons with these characteristics it will be considered that none of them is the object of the interview. If the household is occupied by persons with the mentioned characteristics and moreover by other persons who constitute a household between themselves (for example, a family with students resident in the household), it will be considered as a household made up by persons who make up the household, not considering students as members of the household.

The clarifications to section 5) acquire importance in the first cycle, and do not make any sense in the second and successive cycles as in subsequent cycles the panel members are followed. That is, the persons who collaborated in the first cycle, with the persons who make up part of the households of the said panel persons also being the object of the research.

D. Group establishment

Housing or buildings which are destined to be inhabited by persons, subject to a common authority or regime, which are dependent or not on an economic institution are considered groups establishments

Both group establishments as such (convents, asylums, student residences, prisons...) and hotels, bed and breakfasts and analogous establishments are included for the purposes of this survey.

E. Group household

The group household is defined as the set of persons who reside in a non-institutional group establishment (bed and breakfasts, hotels, guesthouses, residences, military residences, student residences, halls of residence and other boarding school education centres) as well as those who reside in family housing shared by more than five independent persons between themselves, who exclusively use a bedroom and who do not have a common budget.

F. Institution

The institution defined for the purposes of this survey as the set of persons who reside in an institutional group establishment (asylums and nursing homes, health institutions, religious institutions -convents, monasteries-, prisons, correctional centres, refuges, hospices...).

Institutions are distinguished from group establishments in which in the former the residents do not have individual responsibility for managing the household (domestic work, budget...). On the basis of this rule, an old people´s home can have the character of group housing in some cases and in other cases that of institution.

G. Members of the household

The following are considered household members those person who fulfill some of the following conditions:

1. They reside the majority of the year in main family housing (habitual residence) and they share a budget with the household. Also included are the resident domestic service and house guests who have been staying one year or more. Persons who have entered the household as subtenants as guests are excluded.
2. They do not reside the majority of the year in this housing, but they consider it their main residence and share a budget with the household. Both the persons present and those who are temporarily absent (students, interns temporarily in an institution or absent for other reasons for a period of time less than a year).
3. They are spouses of persons who are members of the household, although they do not reside in the housing the majority of the year and independently of whether they consider it their main housing or not.

There are not considered members of the household persons who do not fulfill the general or particular conditions established in the given definition of household members.

In the case of a household member having transferred from one cycle to the next one to a group household )for example a hotel), it must be the object of investigation in the second of the two cycles, but the rest of the persons who integrate into the said group household (other hotel residents) will not be considered household members, except in the case that they have a common budget with the panel member person who has transferred to the group household.

Although during the different cycles the definitions of the variables should be the same, in order to favour the longitudinal analysis small modifications have been introduced in the definition of household members from the implementation of the survey with the objective of better reflecting the reality of the household composition. Thus in the first cycle consideration as household members was also given to those persons who, without participating in the common household budget, resided in the same household, and did not have another residence that they considered their main residence. They also had some relationship with the head of family. These persons are apart from the persons who fulfilled the requirements above.

H. Head of family

Any member of the household who has been designated by the household as such is considered head of family.

I. Reference person

The reference person is considered at the head of the family if he or she is economically active or in the case of this person being economically inactive there is no other economically active person in the household.

If the head of the family is inactive, the spouse or partner of the head of the family will be considered the reference person if he or she is economically active. If the spouse or partner is inactive the oldest economically active member of the household will be considered as the reference person.

Members of the domestic service or guests in the household will never be considered as reference persons.

J. Person responsible for the housing (concept introduced from the second cycle)

The person responsible for the housing will be considered that member of the household in whose name the property (owned housing) or the leasing or subleasing contract (rented housing) is held. If the housing is borrowed that member of the household to whom the house has been borrowed will be considered responsible for the housing.

In those cases in which the holder of the property, whether rented or borrowed is shared among various members of the household the oldest member will be considered responsible for the housing.