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Understanding official data sources: Final report for the low pay commission

Ritchie, Felix; Whittard, Damian; Dawson, Chris

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Damian Whittard
Associate Professor in Policy & Practice in Economics

Chris Dawson


The paper is split into three main sections: a review of existing data sources; an analysis of characteristics of the main reference datasets used for the production of research and official statistics; and an investigation into the imputation code used by the LPC to produce official statistics.

The finding of the review of ASHE, LFS and BHPS is that the notion of rounding in wage setting and wage reporting is confirmed, and the sources of that rounding detailed. For employers, one suggestion is that rounding wages is a response to administrative burdens. For employees, rounding in survey reponses is largely unrelated to any characteristics of the respondent; this means that, although the LFS is clearly subject to measurement error, it can be assumed to be random for many statistical purposes. The report recommends that LPC should focus its attention on occupational differences in wages rather than industrial sector.

On imputation, the study reviewed the current LPC code for addressing gaps in the data available for describing subsections of the community. The study found that while the code has a number of problems, the alternatives (no imputation, or using an alternative wage measure) seemed to less justified statistically. The report recommends that the LPC review and rewrite the code.


Ritchie, F., Whittard, D., & Dawson, C. (2014). Understanding official data sources: Final report for the low pay commission

Report Type Project Report
Publication Date Feb 28, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords minimum wage, low pay, rounding, imputation, official statistics
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Additional Information Additional Information : This report was funded by the LPC under Project 14/5. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and not the producers of the data or statistics, nor the LPC or ONS. ASHE and some LFS data was accessed via the ONS VML (project 12016). Other LFS data and BHPS/USoc data was made available through the UK Data Service (project 72317). All statistical results presented are based on the authors’ own calculations.


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