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Centre d’Etudes de Populations, de Pauvreté et Politiques Socio-Economiques - International Networks for Studies in Technology, Environment, Alternatives, Development
by Gaston Schaber


The description below outlines the basic microdata-based activities of the CEPS/INSTEAD. The Centre originates from a private, non-profit organisation founded in 1978 for comparative, transnational research on persistent poverty in industrialised countries (within the framework of the first EC programme to combat poverty). In consequence of the steady development and complexification of its national and international research activities, the Centre was given by Luxemburg law, in 1989, the status of a Pu blic Establishment with scientific, administrative and financial autonomy. It has proven expertise in scientific, research-driven social and economic data production, with high-quality control at a national and international comparative level, and carries out and co-ordinates national, transnational and inter-regional research in the social sciences. It has, since its intellectual beginnings in 1978, developed and co-ordinated networks of European researchers, provided training facilities for researchers f rom a large number of countries and disciplines, and has created, through its integrated networks, comparability between data and systems of its partners.

The institute carries out micro-economic and micro-social studies and creates micro-economic and micro-social data bases,

  • with the aim of developing instruments for analysing, programming and simulating socio-economic policies,
  • producing innovative information, and adding value to conventional classical data by creating compatibility and comparability,
  • developing innovative methodology and creating new information instruments, useful either for monitoring policies or for technology transfer.
CEPS/INSTEAD maintains close links with many major research institutes throughout the European Union, Central and Eastern Europe, the United States, the FSU, and elsewhere. It develops and consolidates its networks of research and researchers through the joint execution of transnational projects under contract. At present, these networks function mainly within the social sciences, but they are expanding to include progressively exact sciences and technology, so that the networks may make stronger contribut ions to the economic and social development, and re-development, as well as re-investment, in the regions of Europe and elsewhere.

The Luxembourg Income Study (LIS)

The Luxembourg Income Study (the LIS Project) began in 1983 under the joint sponsorship of the Government of Luxembourg and CEPS/INSTEAD. It is now funded on a continuing basis by CEPS/INSTEAD and by the national science and social science research foundations of its member countries. The project has four goals:
  • to test the feasability for creating a database containing social and economic micro-data collected in household surveys from different countries;
  • to provide a method allowing researchers to use the data under restrictions required by the countries providing the data;
  • to create a system that would allow research requests to be received and returned to users at remote locations;
  • to promote comparative research on the economic status of populations in different countries.
The project now has a membership that includes countries in Europe, North America, the Far East, and Australia. The database now contains information for more than 25 countries for one or more years, with negotiations constantly underway to add data from additional countries (including, at present for example, Korea, Russia, Portugal, and Mexico).

The LIS database has a total of over 60 datasets covering the period 1968 to 1992; the database is accessed globally via electronic mail networks by over 300 users in 28 countries. In addition to harmonised data, LIS users, who come from all areas of research activity, are offered extensive documentation concerning the technical aspects of the survey data, and concerning the social institutions of income provision in member countries. LIS-based reports have appeared in books, articles and dissertations. LIS itself has published over 115 Working Papers (full list on request). The project conducts annual summer workshops to introduce researchers to the database, and to give scholars experience in cross-national analysis of social policy issues related to income distribution.

A LIS Newsletter is published twice yearly. Contact: Caroline de Tombeur, LIS at CEPS/INSTEAD, B.P. 65, L-7201 Walferdange, Luxembourg. Phone +352-333233 218, Fax +352-332705, Email

The Luxembourg Employment Study (LES)

Employing the LIS procedures to offer researchers controlled use of otherwise confidential and protected micro-data, a newer project, the Luxemburg Employment Study (LES) collects, standardises and makes available for remote use the micro-data from a set of labour force surveys from the early 1990’s. The project is designed to facilitate the study of different labour market related issues, including analysis of labour market behaviour on an individual level, or in the frame of the household, of educational and occupational patterns, of retirement decisions ...

Currently, the LES database includes nine microdata sets: from Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Sweden; datasets to be added in the near future will come from Finland, France, Spain, Poland and Switzerland.

Around 90 variables are being created, classified into 12 main groups: 1) demographic background, 2) work status, 3) employment characteristics of main job, 4) information on second job, 5) previous work experience of persons not in employment, 6) search for employment, 7) situtation of inactive persons, 8) education and training, 9) situation one year before survey, 10) labour force status, 11) earnings and income, 12) technical items.

The Panel Comparability Project (PACO) for longitudinal studies of persons and households

Designed to overcome the technical and methodological problems facing the comparative researcher, and to maximise the potential of panel surveys for the analysis of dynamic change, the formal PACO project was initiated by CEPS/INSTEAD in 1992. It was based on earlier exploratory comparative work undertaken at CEPS/INSTEAD since 1986, and on activities developed between 1990 and 1993 under the aegis of a major network grant from the European Science Foundation. Work is currently nearing completion under the Human Capital and Mobility Programme of the European Commission.

PACO represents an innovative and centralised attempt to create the technical infrastructure for the comparative study of European social policy, through the creation of a database of comparable variables across different countries and over a larger number of years.

The PACO team adopted a technical and research strategy which combined centralised work at CEPS/INSTEAD with a dispersed network of researchers in the participating countries. Variable specification is the responsibility of all members of the research network, and is carried out jointly by all members of the research group. The PACO database contains data from household panel studies in Luxembourg (PSELL), Germany (SOEP), Great Britain (BHPS), the United States (PSID) and France (ESEML-Lorraine), for years ranging from 1986 through 1994. It consists of harmonised and standardised variables at cross-sectional and longitudinal level, for individuals and for households, with identical variable names, labels and value formats, and a common plan for definition and recoding. Development work is continuing on the PACO database, with data from household panel studies of other countries being added. Discussions are also underway with Russian and Belarussian researchers for inclusion of comparable data from national and regional studies. In addition, an independent but linked comparative database of information on social protection is under development at CEPS/INSTEAD.

A number of research papers based on the PACO files have been published in the series „Comparative Analysis of Longitudinal Data“ and can be ordered from the CEPS/INSTEAD office (Contact: Marcia Taylor, network coordinator; Gaston Schaber, PACO project director; Günther Schmaus, assistant project director).

The Panel Comparability Project on FIRMS

The Centre works at the development of longitudinal studies on firms since 1983 - and in a comparative perspective since 1988. The comparative programme runs for most of the partners at a regional level, not the national one: Lorraine in France, Walloon Region in Belgium, Southern Denmark, Lower Saxony, and (since 1995) the Moscow Region. Until recently, the main focus has been on industry; some partners are ready to include progressively segments of the service sector. This important module of the Centre’ s activities may be described in a further issue of the EURODATA Newsletter.

At the national level, the Luxemmbourg Panel on Firms has been developed in order to set up a dynamic database referring to the structure of the economy and to the labour market,

  • to design and test economic indicators,
  • to evaluate the impact of public policy on the firms,
  • to produce relevant information for decision makers in matters of education and training.

This very short presentation - which hopefully will be detailed in subsequent issues of this Newsletter - gives a summary view only of the major comparative ventures in operation at the Centre and within its networks. Such a view needs to be completed

a) by a thorough description of the basic research tasks which the Centre performs at the level of the country it is rooted in, and without which the comparative endeavours could hardly be supported,

(b) by a more explicite presentation of the Centre’s aim to contribute to the progressive development of better integrated information systems for monitoring changes and policies, and particularly to the development of a common research infrastructure in the economic and social sciences.

Professor Gaston Schaber
B.P. 65
L-7210 Walferdange
Phone +352 - 33 3233 555
Fax +352 - 3334 52

EURODATA Newsletter No.2, p.12-14