The Quality and Selectivity of Linking Federal Administrative Records to Respondents and Nonrespondents in a General Population Survey in Germany

Joseph W. Sakshaug, M Antoni, R Sauckel

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Abstract

Various forms of auxiliary information are being sought to augment general population survey samples in order to evaluate and improve the representativeness and overall quality of survey data. However, auxiliary data options are limited in most general population surveys. Federal administrative databases provide a potentially rich source of auxiliary information, but linking them to general population samples is often restricted to surveys which draw their samples from population registers containing unique identifiers which can be directly linked to federal databases. In this article, we examine the quality and selectivity of linkages between a general population survey sample and a federal administrative database performed without a unique identifier. We employ a series of standard linkage procedures that rely instead on non-unique and error-prone identifiers obtained from the sampling frame to link a federal employment database to respondents and nonrespondents in a nationally-representative survey in Germany. The quality and selectivity of the established links are evaluated using sample disposition codes, and household- and person-level interview data in accordance with German data protection laws. We report a linkage rate of 60 percent for the entire sample under a strict linkage criterion, and 80 percent under a more relaxed criterion. We find that linkage rates vary across some sample disposition codes as well as household- and person-level characteristics that are likely specific to the particular administrative database used in this case study. We conclude with a general discussion of the practical implications of this work for survey organizations considering performing similar linkages and highlight some opportunities for further research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSurvey Research Methods
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2017

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Cathie Marsh Institute

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