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The image shows a web of connected strings.
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Linking Administrative Data and Surveys

The image shows a web of connected strings.
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

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This podcast is the first episode of a Talking about Methods series on quantitative methods co-produced with the Centre for Social Policy Research at the Australian National University (ANU POLIS).

Episode Description

In this episode of Talking about Methods, Professor Linda Mulcahy talks to Professor Ben Edwards (Senior Fellow at the ANU Centre for Social Policy Research and Methods) about the linkage of administrative data to surveys and longitudinal studies.

Readings Recommended by Professor Ben Edwards

This chapter provides an overview of linkage ideas and techniques for a general social science audience: Tokle, J. & Bender, S. (2021), Record linkage. In Foster, I et al. (eds), Big Data and Social Science Data Science Methods and Tools for Research and Practice (2nd Edition). CRC Press

This paper highlights issues in asking survey participants for consent to link their data from government administrative records: Jäckle, A., Beninger, K., Burton, J., and Couper, M.P. (2021), Understanding Data Linkage Consent in Longitudinal Surveys. In P. Lynn (ed.), Advances in Longitudinal Survey Methodology. Chichester: Wiley

This paper demonstrates the value of data linkage to criminology with a study that shows that “children with early onset and persistent conduct problems are responsible for over 50% of all criminal convictions and close to 25% of social welfare benefit months in the population. Half of these children go on to become ‘high service users’ across all three sectors of criminal justice, health and social services.”: Rivenbark, J.G., Odgers, C.L., Caspi, A., Harrington, H., Hogan, S., Houts, R.M., Poulton, R & Moffitt, T.E. (2018), The high societal costs of childhood conduct problems: evidence from administrative records up to age 38 in a longitudinal birth cohort, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59, 703–710.

What if those who are more engaged in criminal behaviour are less likely to consent to record linkage? In this paper, the authors explore the implications of this in a cohort study in Australia: Forrest, W. Edwards, B., & Vassallo, S. (2014). Individual differences in the concordance of self-reports and official records, Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 24(4), 305-315.

Useful Links

UK Data Archive :

UK CENSUS data :

Australian Bureau of Statistics:

About the Speaker

Headshot of Ben Edwards

Professor Ben Edwards

Centre for Social Policy Research at the Australian Nantional University

Professor Ben Edwards is a Senior Fellow at The Centre for Social Policy Research at ANU. He is a quantitative social scientist with a PhD in Psychology. Ben is an expert in longitudinal studies of child and youth development, linkage of administrative data to surveys and longitudinal studies of disadvantaged groups such as refugees. Nationally, he is a recognised leader in social policy issues on children and youth. His work has highlighted the challenges in the implementation of three year old preschool; the intergenerational impacts of traumatic events on children and youth and best practice in area-based initiatives to address disadvantage.

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