FSD Bulletin

Issue 31 (3/2010)

ISSN 1457-7682

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FSD Bulletin is the electronic newsletter of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The Bulletin provides information and news related to the data archive and social science research.


Finnish Social Science Data Archive
E-mail: fsd@tuni.fi

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Comparative Research with LIS Data

Helena Laaksonen

The Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) database provides wealth microdata from more than 30 countries, spanning over three decades. The LIS team harmonizes and standardizes the microdata from the different surveys in order to facilitate comparative research. Harmonization and standardization processes are documented in detail, and the documentation is available on the LIS web site. LIS data are available to registered users of member countries through a remote access system. The Finnish Social Science Data Archive pays the LIS membership fee for Finland.

The Finnish data for the LIS are provided by Statistics Finland. Head of Statistics Juha Honkkila says that the data are formed by combining income register data with information collected through surveys.
– Prior to delivery to the LIS, Statistics Finland processes the data to make direct or indirect identification impossible. Practically all personal information is removed. Geographical information is available only at province level. Upper and lower ranges of income information are edited if there seems to be any risk of identification through them.

Comparative study on last resort social assistance schemes

Susan Kuivalainen, Professor at the University of Turku, has used LIS data for her research on last resort social assistance schemes. In her most recent cross-national study she investigated how effective means-tested social assistance has been to reduce the poverty of Nordic households receiving such assistance in the time span stretching from early 1990s to 2005. Her PhD thesis also focused on minimum income benefits using LIS data.

Why use LIS data?
– LIS data contain information on income transfer systems and allow investigation at micro level. Using the data is easy and there are no other databases containing equivalent information, Kuivalainen says.

What is the most challenging aspect of using LIS data?
– It takes time to get used to the fact that the data are not 'visible' and one cannot actually see the variables. Using the data requires getting acquainted with so-called "lissification" to know how social assistance benefits of different countries have been classified.

What is the best in LIS data?
– LIS covers many countries and allows longitudinal comparisons for longer time periods than EU-Silc, for instance. It also allows study on many different issues. The recently launched LISSY program is very useful.

Would you recommend LIS data to students - or to researchers?
– Definitely. I would also recommend attending a LIS summer school. The LIS provides an excellent web site containing basic indicators and, in addition, over 500 working papers where LIS data have been used. Staff members are helpful and quickly provide answers to people who have questions about the data. It does not cost anything for a researcher or student to use the data!

More information: LIS web site