© 2014

Harmonising Demographic and Socio-Economic Variables for Cross-National Comparative Survey Research


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Jürgen H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, Uwe Warner
    Pages 1-5
  3. Jürgen H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, Uwe Warner
    Pages 7-14
  4. Jürgen H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, Uwe Warner
    Pages 15-50
  5. Jürgen H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, Uwe Warner
    Pages 51-79
  6. Jürgen H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, Uwe Warner
    Pages 81-207
  7. Jürgen H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, Uwe Warner
    Pages 209-238
  8. Jürgen H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, Uwe Warner
    Pages 239-252
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 253-274

About this book


This book explains harmonisation techniques that can be used in survey research to align national systems of categories and definitions in such a way that comparison is possible across countries and cultures. It provides an introduction to instruments for collecting internationally comparable data of interest to survey researchers. It shows how seven key demographic and socio-economic variables can be harmonised and employed in European comparative surveys. The seven key variables discussed in detail are: education, occupation, income, activity status, private household, ethnicity, and family. These demographic and socio-economic variables are background variables that no survey can do without. They frequently have the greatest explanatory capacity to analyse social structures, and are a mirror image of the way societies are organised nationally. This becomes readily apparent when one attempts, for example, to compare national education systems. Moreover, a comparison of the national definitions of concepts such as "private household" reveals several different historically and culturally shaped underlying concepts. Indeed, some European countries do not even have a word for  "private household". Hence such national definitions and categories cannot simply be translated from one culture to another. They must be harmonised.    ​


Comparative social research in Europe Core Social Variables Cross-National Comparison Research European Social Survey Harmonisation Process International Social Survey Programme International Standard Classification of Education International Standard Classification of Occupations Measurement Instruments for Data Collection Measurement of Education Measurement of Household Measurement of Income Measurement of Labour Status Nominal Class Categories Socio-Demographic Standards for Europe Socio-Demographic variables Socio-Economic Classification Socio-Economic Variables Survey Research US Census Bureau guidelines

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Political ScienceJustus Liebig University of GiessenGiessenGermany
  2. 2.Socio-Economiques/International Network for Studies in Technology Environment, Alternatives, DevelopmentCEPS/INSTEAD, Centre d'Etudes de Populations de Pauvrete et de Politiques et de PolitiquesEsch/AlzetteLuxembourg

About the authors

Prof. Dr. Jürgen H.P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik is head of Knowledge Transfer Unit of GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Mannheim, Germany. He is coordinating coordinate and organize the GESIS workshop and seminar program and organize the GESIS Summer School on Survey Methodology, starting in 2012. His main research interests are standardization and harmonization of demographic and socio-economic background variables for national and international comparison and cross-country comparative survey research. Dr. Uwe Warner is conseiller scientifique at the "Centre d'Etudes de Population, de Pauvreté et de Politiques Socio-Economiques / International Network for Studies in Technology, Environment, Alternatives, Development (CEPS/INSTEAD)" in Luxembourg. He is the national coordinator of ESS in Luxembourg; he was responsible for the Luxembourgian data collection and data integration into ECHP; he is in charge of carrying out various national surveys in Luxembourg. His main research interests are standardization and harmonization of demographic and socio-economic background variables for international comparison, cross-country comparative survey research, and international studies on income distribution, poverty and social welfare.

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“The monograph is devoted to the problem of cross-national comparative measurement in survey studies. … The book is interesting, innovative, and can serve to all those who are engaged in cross-national studies facilitating achievement of the comparative measurement in survey research.” (Stan Lipovetsky, Technometrics, Vol. 58 (2), 2016)