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Activity status (employment status), Europe

Codes and Frequencies

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Explore how IPUMS created this variable


      class Eempstat:public Editor {

    Eempstat(VarPointer varInfo) : Editor(varInfo) {}
    void edit() {
		// The source variable is identified in the trans table. It's an integrated variable.
		// Rather than the recoded version, we want the fully edited version as the
		// input to the translation table of ECLASSWK:
        long a = getRecodedFromEditedSource();




EEMPSTAT indicates for the European samples whether or not the respondent was part of the labor force -- working or seeking work -- over a specified period of time. Depending on the sample, EEMPSTAT can also convey further information.

EEMPSTAT has been classified according to the recommendations given by the Conference of European Statisticians for the 2010 Population and Housing Censuses. "Employment Status" is referred to as "Activity Status" in the CES recommendations, but the former term is used to maintain consistency with IPUMS practices.

The economically active population constitutes the total labor force: employed and unemployed persons.

Comparability — Index

United Kingdom

Comparability — General

The first digit of EEMPSTAT is fully comparable, and classifies the population into two groups: economically active and not economically active. The second and third digits of EEMPSTAT preserve additional information available for some countries and census years but not for others.

Employment status is complex and is often derived from a number of separate census questions. In general, where EEMPSTAT is concerned, users should pay particular attention to the enumerator instructions and census questionnaires.

The age of persons to whom the question applies varies across the samples. The number of categories distinguished among the inactive population also varies among samples.

For an internationally comparable variable on employment status that is not designed specifically for the European situation, see EMPSTAT.

Reference period

The reference period for the employment status question varies across censuses. For some samples employment status was reported with respect to the day of the census; for others it was determined over a week prior to the census. The variation among samples with respect to reference period is summarized below:

1) Current (at time of census):
Austria 1971-2001
Germany 1970, 1987
Greece 1981
France 1962-2006
Hungary 2011
Ireland 1971, 1981-2016
Romania 1992
Slovenia 2002
Switzerland 1970-2000
2) Reference week (typically the week prior to the census):
Belarus 1999-2009
Finland 2010
Greece 1971, 1991-2011
Hungary 1970-2001
Italy 2001-2011; all surveys
Netherlands 2001-2011
Poland 2002
Portugal 1981-2001
Romania 2002-2011
Russia 2002-2010
Spain 1981-2011; all surveys
United Kingdom 1991-2001
Economically active
The "economically active" population comprises all persons who provide the supply of labor, as employed or as unemployed, for the production of goods and services. It is also called the "labor force."
The employed population generally consists of persons working for pay for an employer, self-employed persons, unpaid (usually family) workers engaged in the production of economic goods, and persons who have a job but were temporarily absent for some reason. The details for each sample can be examined in the enumeration text for the census.
Although the unemployed population is difficult to define consistently across the entire world, the task is simplified for Europe. We apply UN and ILO standards in defining the unemployed population as persons who were out of work and actively seeking a job.

In all European samples except Austria 1971 and 1981, the activity of seeking a job is included in the unemployed concept. In Austria 1971, there are no explicit instructions about the seeking a job. In Austria 1981, persons receiving an unemployment payment are considered unemployed whether or not he/she was seeking work.

Among the unemployed, some samples distinguish between persons with past work experience (experienced unemployed) and persons seeking work for the first time (new workers).
Not economically active
The economically inactive population comprises all persons who do not provide their labor to productive activities either as employed or unemployed workers. There are several categories identified among the economically inactive:
Students. Persons not "currently economically active", who for most of the reference period attended any regular educational institution, public or private, for systematic instruction at any level of education.
Pension or capital income recipients. Persons, not "currently economically active" who receive income from property or investments, interest, rents, royalties or pensions from former activities.
Homemakers. Persons not "currently economically active", who for most of the reference period were engaged in unpaid household duties in their own home, for example, housewives/men and other relatives responsible for the care of the home, children or elderly people.
Others. Persons not "currently economically active", who received public aid or private support, and all other persons not falling into any of the above categories (for example children not attending school).

Comparability — Austria [top]

Austria follows non-standard and changing practices in the identification of employment status. Persons are considered inactive if they worked in an average week fewer than 14 hours in 1971, 13 hours in 1981, or 12 hours in 1991.

In 2001, 1 hour of work per week qualifies a person as employed: the modern international standard. Persons working fewer than 12 hours -- "marginally employed" -- can be identified as a subcategory of employed persons in EMPSTAT, and can be used to make the Austrian samples fairly consistent over time.

Details are not available for 2011.

Comparability — Belarus [top]

The 2009 sample listed more response categories than 1999.

Comparability — Finland [top]

The reference period for the 2010 census is the last week of the calendar year.

Comparability — France [top]

In 1975, employment status was determined for persons age 16 and older, in 1999 it was age 15 and older, and in other samples age 14 and older.

In all years the reference period was employment status at the time of the census.

The 1962 sample does not identify retirees, but the later French samples do. For this reason, in 1962 retirees are included in the category "inactive, others," while in the other samples they are included in the "retirees/pensioners" or "retired" categories.

Comparability — Germany [top]

The reference period is implicitly at the time of the census.

Comparability — Greece [top]

The reference period differs: in 1981 it is as of the time of the census; in 1971, 1991, 2001, and 2011 is the previous week.

The experienced unemployed and persons seeking their first job are distinguished in 1971, 2001 and 2011 but not in other years.

Pensioners are distinguished in 1991, 2001 and 2011, but not in the 1971 and 1981 samples. In the latter samples they are probably included in the unknown/missing category.

The 1971-2001 samples had a universe of persons greater than 10 years old. The universe is all persons in 2011.

Comparability — Hungary [top]

New and experienced unemployed are separately identified in 1990, but are combined in a single category in the 2001 and 2011.

Students are identified in 1990, but not in 2001 or 2011, when they are included with "others."

For similar but not completely comparable information for 1970 and 1980, see LABORHU. There are also more categories for all Hungary samples in that variable.

Comparability — Ireland [top]

All samples report the person's present employment status at the time of the census.

The data for the 1971 sample are derived from a different census question, but should be comparable to later years. The 1971 sample does not distinguish between persons who are experienced unemployed and persons seeking their first regular job, while all samples from 1981 onward do make this distinction. The 1981-2016 samples are otherwise fully comparable with only slight differences in universes.

Persons temporarily absent from work and apprentices who also attend school are classified as "employed". Full-time students who also work part-time are classified as "students". Unpaid workers are still classified as "employed".

Comparability — Italy [top]

Employment status refers to the week prior to the census. "Unemployment" means actively seeking a job. In the 2001 sample, those who are waiting to start a job, students, retired, unemployed, or doing housework can also report working. In the 2011 sample, none of these categories reported working.

Comparability — Netherlands [top]

The question considers persons working or seeking work last week. The 1960 and 1971 samples are not included in EMPSTAT because they did not identify unemployed persons. Persons in the labor force can be derived from the variable CLASSWK.

Comparability — Poland [top]

In 2002, persons who were classified as economically inactive yet farming on one's own farm or plot of land (with no agriculture production or in subsistence farming) were considered "inactive."

Comparability — Portugal [top]

In all years, labor force participation is considered to involve one hour of paid work or 15 hours unpaid.

The age universe for the question rose from 12+ for 1981-1991, to 15+ in 2001-2011.

Comparability — Romania [top]

The reference period changed from the day of the census in 1992 to the previous week in 2002 and 2011. The census questions are otherwise comparable.

The 1977 sample contains no employment status variable.

The universe is all persons for 1992 and 2002 and persons 15 years or older in 2011.

Comparability — Russia [top]

Data are comparable between samples. The reference period is the week preceding the census. Persons above age 72 were not asked their status in 2010; they have been coded to inactive for comparability across years.

Comparability — Slovenia [top]

Unemployment means having registered with the Employment Service.

Comparability — Switzerland [top]

All samples report status at the time of the census. Employed persons work for one or more hours per week, and apprenticeships are included. Unemployed persons are actively seeking work.

Comparability — Ukraine [top]

Employment status is inferred from a question asking for the individual's main source of livelihood. Individuals who identified self-employment, work for an individual, or work for a private or family farm or enterprise as the main source of livelihood are coded as "Employed." Individuals who identified unemployment benefits as the main source of livelihood are coded as "Unemployed." Individuals who identified scholarship, property income, or pension as the main source of livelihood are coded as "Inactive." Individuals who identified other sources of livelihood are coded as "Unknown."

The reference period is implicitly at the time of the census.

Comparability — United Kingdom [top]

Employed persons worked any period of time paid or unpaid in the week prior to the census. Unemployed persons were those actively seeking a job or waiting to begin a new job.

The universe changes notably between census years: persons over age 74 are not included in 2001 but can have employment information in 1991.

Homemakers are identified in 2001 but are included with "others" in 1991.


  • Austria 1971: All persons
  • Austria 1981: All persons
  • Austria 1991: All persons
  • Austria 2001: All persons
  • Austria 2011: Persons age 15+
  • Belarus 1999: Persons age 15+
  • Belarus 2009: Persons age 15+
  • Finland 2010: Persons age 15+
  • France 1962: Persons age 14+
  • France 1968: Persons age 14+
  • France 1975: Persons age 16+
  • France 1982: Persons age 14+
  • France 1990: Persons age 14+
  • France 1999: Persons age 15+
  • France 2006: Persons age 14+
  • France 2011: Persons age 14+
  • Germany 1970: All persons
  • Germany 1987: All persons
  • Greece 1971: Persosn age 10+
  • Greece 1981: Persosn age 10+
  • Greece 1991: Persosn age 10+
  • Greece 2001: Persosn age 10+
  • Greece 2011: All persons
  • Hungary 1990: All persons
  • Hungary 2001: All persons
  • Hungary 2011: All persons
  • Ireland 1971: Persons age 14+
  • Ireland 1981: Persons age 15+
  • Ireland 1986: Persons age 15+
  • Ireland 1991: Persons age 15+
  • Ireland 1996: Persons age 15+
  • Ireland 2002: Non-absent persons age 15+
  • Ireland 2006: Non-absent persons age 15+
  • Ireland 2011: Non-absent persons age 15+
  • Ireland 2016: Non-absent persons age 15+
  • Italy 2001: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2011: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2011Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2012Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2013Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2014Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2015Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2016Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2017Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2018Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Italy 2019Q1: Persons age 15+
  • Netherlands 2001: All persons
  • Netherlands 2011: Persons age 15+
  • Poland 2002: Persons age 15+
  • Portugal 1981: Persons age 12+
  • Portugal 1991: Persons age 12+
  • Portugal 2001: Persons age 15+
  • Portugal 2011: Persons age 15+
  • Romania 1992: All persons
  • Romania 2002: All persons
  • Romania 2011: Persons age 15+
  • Russia 2002: Persons age 15+
  • Russia 2010: Persons age 15+
  • Slovenia 2002: All persons
  • Spain 1981: All persons
  • Spain 1991: All persons
  • Spain 2001: All persons
  • Spain 2005Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2005Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2005Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2005Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2006Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2006Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2006Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2006Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2007Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2007Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2007Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2007Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2008Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2008Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2008Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2008Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2009Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2009Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2009Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2009Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2010Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2010Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2010Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2010Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2011: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2011Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2011Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2011Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2011Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2012Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2012Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2012Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2012Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2013Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2013Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2013Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2013Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2014Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2014Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2014Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2014Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2015Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2015Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2015Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2015Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2016Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2016Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2016Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2016Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2017Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2017Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2017Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2017Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2018Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2018Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2018Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2018Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2019Q1: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2019Q2: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2019Q3: Persons age 16+
  • Spain 2019Q4: Persons age 16+
  • Switzerland 1970: Persons age 15+
  • Switzerland 1980: Persons age 15+
  • Switzerland 1990: Persons age 15+
  • Switzerland 2000: Persons age 15+
  • Ukraine 2001: All persons
  • United Kingdom 1991: Persons age 16+
  • United Kingdom 2001: Persons age 16-74 who are not non-resident students


  • Austria: 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011
  • Belarus: 1999, 2009
  • Finland: 2010
  • France: 1962, 1968, 1975, 1982, 1990, 1999, 2006, 2011
  • Germany: 1970, 1987
  • Greece: 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011
  • Hungary: 1990, 2001, 2011
  • Ireland: 1971, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2006, 2011, 2016
  • Italy: 2001, 2011, 2011Q1, 2012Q1, 2013Q1, 2014Q1, 2015Q1, 2016Q1, 2017Q1, 2018Q1, 2019Q1
  • Netherlands: 2001, 2011
  • Poland: 2002
  • Portugal: 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011
  • Romania: 1992, 2002, 2011
  • Russia: 2002, 2010
  • Slovenia: 2002
  • Spain: 1981, 1991, 2001, 2005Q1, 2005Q2, 2005Q3, 2005Q4, 2006Q1, 2006Q2, 2006Q3, 2006Q4, 2007Q1, 2007Q2, 2007Q3, 2007Q4, 2008Q1, 2008Q2, 2008Q3, 2008Q4, 2009Q1, 2009Q2, 2009Q3, 2009Q4, 2010Q1, 2010Q2, 2010Q3, 2010Q4, 2011, 2011Q1, 2011Q2, 2011Q3, 2011Q4, 2012Q1, 2012Q2, 2012Q3, 2012Q4, 2013Q1, 2013Q2, 2013Q3, 2013Q4, 2014Q1, 2014Q2, 2014Q3, 2014Q4, 2015Q1, 2015Q2, 2015Q3, 2015Q4, 2016Q1, 2016Q2, 2016Q3, 2016Q4, 2017Q1, 2017Q2, 2017Q3, 2017Q4, 2018Q1, 2018Q2, 2018Q3, 2018Q4, 2019Q1, 2019Q2, 2019Q3, 2019Q4
  • Switzerland: 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000
  • Ukraine: 2001
  • United Kingdom: 1991, 2001