General information about the data collection

What is the survey on income and living conditions about?

The survey on income and living conditions collects data about income and living conditions of households living in Finland. The Survey on Income and Living Conditions asks about, for example, the composition of households, the activities of household members during the year, housing and housing costs, loans, economic livelihood and health. In addition to questions on the form, data are collected from administrative registers on income and social benefits received, pensions and taxation, for example. The survey on income and living conditions answers questions like:

The data collected in the survey on income and living conditions are used to compile the income distribution statistics, which are used for the preparation and monitoring of social decision-making. The data from the survey on income and living conditions are also used in universities and research institutions as research data. The European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) produced by the Statistical Office of the European Communities, Eurostat, is based on this survey. Statistics Finland is obliged to produce and transmit the data to Eurostat under Regulation of the European Union (No. 1177/2003).

Who do we ask for an interview?

Over 10,000 households are contacted yearly for the Survey on income and living conditions. The households are private households permanently resident in Finland, i.e. the so-called household population. We do not try to reach households living permanently abroad (for over a year), with no address and institutional population (such as long-term residents of old-age homes, care institutions, prisons or hospitals).

The households have been drawn randomly from Statistics Finland’s database on the population of Finland. From each household one person aged over 16 is selected, but other household members can also take part in supplying information. One household drawn to the sample represents roughly 300 other households. The same respondents are contacted in four successive years always in spring. The data are collected mainly by telephone (the interview lasts around 25 minutes) and Statistics Finland's statistical interviewers conduct the interviews. One-person households can alternatively answer with a web questionnaire.

Do we collect data from administrative registers?

Data from administrative records and registers are also combined with the data obtained by asking for the Survey on income and living conditions. The response burden can be reduced by utilising registers. The registers utilised in the survey on income and living conditions are:

  • The Population Information System of the Population Register Centre and Statistics Finland’s database on the population of Finland, which provide basic data concerning, for example, municipality of residence, gender, occupations and family relationships;
  • The taxation database of the Tax Administration, which gives information about income received, taxes paid and tax deductions;
  • The Social Insurance Institution of Finland's registers of pension insurance, health insurance compensation and rehabilitation, registers of child maintenance allowances, financial aid for students and housing allowances provide information about various social benefits received;
  • The National Institute for Health and Welfare's register of social assistance gives information about social assistance;
  • Information about pensions is collected from the pension contingency register of the Finnish Centre for Pensions;
  • Statistics Finland's Register of Completed Education and Degrees provides information on the highest completed degree;
  • The State Treasury's database on the military injuries indemnity system contains information about military injuries indemnity;
  • The Education Fund's data files provide information about grants;
  • Information about farms and agricultural enterprises is collected from the farm register of the Information Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry;
  • Statistics Finland's Business Register gives information about industries of workplaces.

Confidentiality of data

The data provided by survey participants and the data combined with them from administrative records are treated as confidential in accordance with the Statistics Act (280/2004). Persons working with the survey on income and living conditions are legally obliged to secrecy. Other people are not allowed to view data concerning an individual respondent. It is not possible to identify the information provided by individual respondents or their identity from the published data as the data are generalised to apply to the entire population. Data based on observing fewer than 30 interviewed persons or households are not published. The data are not disclosed to other authorities either.

A service set intended for research use is compiled based on the survey on income and living conditions. Its use requires a user licence, which the researchers that need the data in their research can request from Statistics Finland. Receiving a user licence requires that an account is given of the purpose for which the data will be used. The licence is granted for scientific research and statistical surveys only. All data enabling direct identification are removed from the service set. The researchers using the service set are also obliged to secrecy. Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, operates under these same principles.