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Employed or inactive? Cross-national differences in coding parental leave beneficiaries in Labour Force Survey data


  • MIKUCKA Malgorzata


In survey research the parental leave beneficiaries are usually coded as either employed or inactive. One of the exceptions is the European Labor Force Survey (EU-LFS), which (from 2006) includes parental leave among other forms of being employed but temporarily not working. This paper explores classification of parental leave takers in EU-LFS, focusing on cross-country discrepancies and their consequences. Our results show that classification rules differ cross-nationally: in some countries parental leave takers are considered inactive, in others ? employed but temporarily not working. In particular in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia the EU-LFS data do not reflect the actual use of parental leaves because beneficiaries are coded as inactive. We estimate the actual number of mothers on parental leave in these countries and show that EU-LFS employment rates of women aged 18-40 are biased downwards 2-7 percentage points; for mothers of children aged 0-2 the bias reaches 12-45 percentage points . Our study shows the limited comparability of EU-LFS employment rates, warns about possible bias in cross-national studies and shows the importance of transparent and consistent survey measurement of employment status.

Suggested Citation

  • MIKUCKA Malgorzata & VALENTOVA Marie, 2011. "Employed or inactive? Cross-national differences in coding parental leave beneficiaries in Labour Force Survey data," LISER Working Paper Series 2011-45, LISER.
  • Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2011-45

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dominique Anxo & Colette Fagan & Marie-Thérèse Letablier & Corinne Perraudin & Mark Smith, 2007. "Parental leave in European Companies: Establishment Survey on Working Time 2004-2005," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00271661, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Malgorzata Mikucka, 2016. "How to Measure Employment Status and Occupation in Analyses of Survey Data? (Jak mierzyc status zatrudnienia i pozycjê zawodowa w analizach danych sondazowych?)," Problemy Zarzadzania, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 14(60), pages 40-60.

    More about this item


    parental leave; labor market status; employment status; cross-country comparability; Labour Force Survey; Czech Republic; Estonia; Hungary; Slovakia;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy

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