Workshop on Harmonisation of Social Survey Data for Cross-National Comparison held in Prague on Tuesday 19th October.

  • Harmonisation of socio-demographic variables in large cross-national surveys.
  • Application of data harmonisation concepts at the national level.
  • New developments, alternative solutions, evolution of alternative data harmonisation concepts, data harmonisation infrastructure.

Location: AKC, Husova 4a, Prague 1. Hosted by the Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic


Data Harmonisation in International Surveys on Education
Petr Soukup (Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague)
The main goal of the presentation is to show the processes which ensure duality and harmonization of data from international surveys on education. Presentation is focused on preparation phase, data collection, data entry, coding, scoring and final data processing (clearing, weighting, scale preparation). There will be also note about procedure of coding occupation using ISCO classification.

Harmonisation accross countries in SHARE
Stephanie Stuck (SHARE project; Mannheim Research Institute for the   Economics of Aging, University of  Mannheim)
The Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) is a cross-national, longitudinal, and multidisciplinary survey that collects data from people aged 50 and over in the areas of health, economics and social support. The first wave of data collection took place in 2004/05 in 11 European countries and Israel. In 2006/07 three more countries joined the second wave. The third wave (2008/09) called SHARELIFE collected retrospective data on life histories going back to the early childhood of respondents. Wave 4 data will be collected end of 2010 and 2011 using the ‘standard’ SHARE questionnaire again. SHARE applies a concept of ex-ante harmonisation at all stages of the survey process. This means SHARE has one common generic questionnaire that is translated using an internet based translation tool and processed automatically in one common CAPI instrument. Survey agencies are contracted using a model contract and they all use the same instruments to do the fieldwork (CAPI, sample management system, fieldwork monitoring, data transfer utilities etc.). Furthermore all countries participate in several ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions per wave that serve as role models for national interviewer trainings. To insure common standards and quality of interviewer training country teams also participate in the national interviewer training sessions. Data processing is harmonised at every step, too: preload preparation, data cleaning and production of public releases are done for all countries centrally in close cooperation with national country teams. Nevertheless harmonised in advance has its limits and SHARE also does some ex-post harmonisation in the areas of education (ISCED) and occupation (ISCO, NACE). Furthermore there are item specific differences e.g. in answer categories especially when it comes to institutional features. Such country specific deviations are documented on the website (

Hitches with Harmonization of EU_SILC
Veronika Sequensová (Czech Statistical Office)
EU-SILC (Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) is a social survey providing annual data on income and living conditions for EU member states, Iceland and Norway. Apparent necessity of harmonization of the survey constantly brings impulses for discussion how should this harmonization look like and to which extension is it executable to harmonize for states conducting the survey. Both main types of harmonization - input harmonization and output harmonization - have its advantages and its disadvantages which will be explained in the presentation. There are completely different views on the harmonization issue - users view and view of the institutions conducting the survey. The biggest challenge is to balance needs of both view - to leave place for national specificies while keep the level of harmonization high enough to compare results from different countries.

Harmonisation of EU-SILC: Obstacles for Users
Martina Mysíková (Institute of Sociology AS CR, Prague)
This presentation briefly introduces the household survey EU-SILC which is conducted in all EU member states and harmonised by Eurostat. Despite a relatively high degree of harmonisation there are problems users might face if they carried out a research at an international level. The main emphasis is put on income data and their differences among countries.

Problems in the  Comparability and Harmonization of Community Size in ISSP Surveys
Michael L. Smith (Institute of Sociology AS CR, Prague)

Data Harmonisation as a Cumulative Effort - A Platform Designed to Foster the Cumulation of Knowledge
Markus Quandt (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne)
Comparative analysis in the social sciences has become globalised at almost the same pace as world wide networking through the internet has progressed. However, when data used for comparative purposes are to be manipulated to improve comparability, researchers often fall back on ad hoc considerations, using a diversity of tools selected just for  their familiarity and availability, and usually creating little documentation. The result is a lack of supply of proper harmonisation work, and a lack of transparency in what is available. The European data archives are therefore developing an open web platform for systematic ex post-harmonisation work. This platform shall offer researchers tools to perform proper data harmonisation work, and at the same time support the publication of finalised harmonisation routines. A prospective component that is heavily borrowing ideas from current web trends is that of users commenting, rating, and discussing the materials they find within the platform.

Social capital in cross-cultural comparison. Opportunity and limits of social network measurement in   representative surveys
Jiří Šafr (Institute of Sociology AS CR, Prague)       

Do we need new social capital indicators in cross national surveys? The potential of "old" and "new" social  capital indicators
Julia Hauberer (Institute of Sociology AS CR, Prague)
International social surveys often use Social Capital measures based on Robert D. Putnam’s concept, that is, they include indicators of networks of civic engagement (memberships in associations), generalized trust and norms of reciprocity (e.g. accepting deviant behavior). However, many researches show that Putnam´s concept of mutual influences of the social capital indicators might not be correct and thus call for a reconsideration of the concept. One way to do that is to conceptualize social capital as structural entity only and thus measure the composition of an individuals’ network (e.g. size, density, available resources etc). Several network measures have been developed that are appropriate for cross-national surveys (e.g. Name Generator, Position Generator or Resource Generator). The presentation demonstrates the particular potential of the Resource Generator: 1) results of the survey “Social Relationships among Czech Citizens” indicate that the Resource Generator is not only reliable and valid in the Netherlands where it was developed, but also in the Czech Republic and 2) international comparisons using the Eurobarometer 62.2 show important but so far neglected interrelations between network characteristics and accessed social resources.

Difficulties in Harmonising Measures of Public Agenda
František Kalvas (Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, University of West Bohemia, Pilsen)