Micro-level data sources for Scottish policy

Bell, D. and Jack, G. and Wright, R.E. (2004) Micro-level data sources for Scottish policy. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 51 (1). pp. 143-147. ISSN 0036-9292 (https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0036-9292.2004.05101009....)

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The process of devolution in Scotland has increased the demand for economic research focussing on Scottish-specific issues. The Scottish Economic Policy Network (http://www.scotecon.net), based at the Universities of Stirling and Strathclyde, has been established in order to generate evidence-based research aimed at informing the rich policy debate that has arisen post-devolution. Such research (which has sadly been lacking in the past) is crucially needed by the various departments of the Scottish Executive in order to effectively design and execute economic and social policy. However, 'evidence-based' research by it very nature implies that rich and detailed data sources, both at the micro- and macro-level, are needed. In fact it is the stated goal of both the UK and Scottish Governments to increase the quantity and quality of data available to researchers in order to facilitate the understanding of the likely impact of a whole array of public policy initiatives (see Cabinet Office, 2000; Scottish Executive, 2001). The purpose of this note is to review what can be termed large-scale, sample survey-based, micro-level data sources collected by the various governments of the UK or by their agents. The eleven specific 'surveys' considered are: British Household Panel Survey (BHPS); Family Expenditure Survey (FES); Family Resources Survey (FRS); Households Below Average Income (HBAI); Labour Force Survey (LFS); Scottish Household Survey (SHS); Survey of Personal Income (SPI); Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS); Scottish Crime Survey (SCS); Scottish Health Survey (HSS); and Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS). The nature of each of these surveys is described (i.e. why the data was collected in the first place), along with a discussion of sampling frames, sample sizes and other technicalities. Each of these surveys differ in a number of ways, such as their design methodologies, specific questions asked and geographic coverage. However, there is considerable overlap in certain respects and similarities between these surveys are noted.