Labour-Related Data

For Canada and Other Developed Countries

1. A Brief Guide to Canadian Labour Market Data

(a) Microdata on Individuals and Households.

The most important, and widely used household surveys in Canada for labour research are:

  1. The monthly labour force survey (LFS): equivalent of the U.S. Current Population Survey.
  2. The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), an annual supplement to the April LFS. (Roughly equivalent to the US March CPS).
  3. The Census, conducted at five-year intervals, including 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996.
  4. A series of stand-alone surveys aimed at capturing labour market dynamics, some of which have a panel aspect. These include the Survey of 1981 Work History (SWH) (1982), the Labour Market Activity Survey (LMAS) (1986-1990), and the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) 1993-?
  5. The Canadian family expenditure survey (FAMEX). A representative survey run in various years between 1969 and 1996. CILN has eight surveys, but not all cover the whole country. For the years after 1996, FAMEX is to be replaced by Survey of Household Spending (SHS) which is to be an annual survey with a 50% larger sample size.

(b) Microdata on Workplaces and/or Firms.

There is currently, to our knowledge, no publicly available microdata on Canadian firms. Statistics Canada is however in the process of administering a Canadian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey, which should be released in the next year or so.

(c) Aggregate data.

The most widely-used and accessible aggregate data on Canadian labour and other markets is available through CANSIM. There is a CANSIM site from which data can be downloaded by eligible researchers at:

2. Data Access

(a) Original Canadian Microdata

All the surveys described above are produced by Statistics Canada, who provide public use microdata files. At the moment, these files, plus many other StatCan data sets, are freely accessible to any researcher affiliated with a Canadian university, so long as that university participates in Statistics Canada's DATA LIBERATION INITIATIVE (DLI).

(b) Other Data Extracts and microdata files available from CILN

The following are available to Canadian researchers in DLI institutions:

  1. The Canadian Famex. A Square data set for all the publicly-available years is available, with documentation. Note that the Canadian Famex has the following advantages over (say) the UK FES or the US CES:

    (i) it is a survey of annual expenditures and does not suffer so badly from infrequency as do diary (two week survey) based surveys;
    (ii) the income data is thought to be of high quality since the survey is carried out around tax preparation time;
    (iii) questions are asked about changes in assets over the year so that two different measures of saving are available;
    (iv) there is geographical variation in various things such as prices, social assistance etc..

  2. Extracts from the Canadian Survey of Consumer Finances (relatively consistent files, prepared by Herb Schuetze):
    The files are for individuals, and are prepared from the individual files since 1981, and the census files for the 1970's.

  3. User-friendly versions of the PSID (prepared by Kevin Reilly and JoAnn Kingston-Riechers.)

(c) Data links:

United States
Europe Other Sites
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