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The perils of pre-filling: lessons from the UK’s Annual Survey of Hours and Earning microdata

Whittard, D., Ritchie, F., Phan, V., Bryson, A., Forth, J., Stokes, L. and Singleton, C. ORCID: (2023) The perils of pre-filling: lessons from the UK’s Annual Survey of Hours and Earning microdata. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 39 (3). pp. 661-677. ISSN 1874-7655

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3233/SJI-230013


The role of the National Statistical Institution (NSI) is changing, with many now making microdata available to researchers through secure research environments. This provides NSIs with an opportunity to benefit from the methodological input from researchers who challenge the data in new ways. This article uses the United Kingdom’s Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) to illustrate the point. We study whether the use of prefilled forms in ASHE may create inaccurate values in one of the key fields, workplace location, despite there being no direct evidence of it in the data supplied to researchers. We link surveys to examine the hypothesis that employees working for multi-site employers making an ASHE survey submission are more likely to have their work location incorrectly recorded as the respondent fails to correct the work location variable that has been pre-filled. In the short-term, suggestions are made to improve the quality of ASHE microdata, while longer-term, we suggest that the burden of collecting additional data could be offset through greater use of electronic data capture. More generally, in a time when statistical budgets are under pressure, this study encourages NSIs to make greater use of the microdata research community to help inform statistical developments.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Economics
ID Code:112801
Uncontrolled Keywords:microdata; response burden; measurement error, ASHE; spatial


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