In economics in general and in labour market research in particular, there is a trend towards an increasing part of the research being based on micro data. This means that large amounts of data is analysed which contains information about individuals and firms. The major part of the empirical research carried out at IFAU is based on micro data with which IFAU has been provided by Statistics Sweden, the National Labour Market Board or some other authority. Access to this information is a prerequisite for the activities at IFAU.
Using personal data
Personal data is all kinds of information that can be directly or indirectly attributed to a natural person. The Personal Data Act, SFS 1998:204, aims at protecting people against violation of their personal integrity. IFAU has a personal data representative who shall ensure that personal data is dealt with in a correct way. The representative is also an asset for the authority as concerns privacy protection of personal data. Among other things, the representative is to make note of all use of personal data. Since IFAU is an authority, personal data is also protected by statistical secrecy. Thus, a person only has the right to obtain information about herself and not about anyone else. If you have questions about how personal data is handled at IFAU, please contact our personal data representative.
IFAU’s personal data representative
Phone: +46-18-471 70 83
Three kinds of personal data
In principle, the following three kinds of personal data are used in research at IFAU:
- Information that has been provided by another authority or organisation and which does not contain any identifying information, for example name or civic registration number.
- Information that has been collected using questionnaires sent out by mail or by telephone surveys, where a selection of individuals (respondents) are directly asked questions.
- Information that has been provided by another authority or organisation and that contains some identifying information.
Research at IFAU is almost exclusively based on unidentifiable individual information, that is data that falls within the first category above. Each individual researcher who uses data also signs a secrecy statement which commits him/her not to try to discover the individuals’ identity.
Unidentifiable personal data contains no directly identifying characteristic such as name or civic registration number. Instead, its contains a special serial number which replaces the civic registration number. The connection between serial number and civic registration number is kept at the authority which provided IFAU with the information, which is also a reason for the material being considered as personal data. IFAU does not have access to the connection, however, and this is the reason why the information is unidentifiable. This is thus the most common type of personal data at IFAU.
When data is collected through a questionnaire or a telephone survey, the respondents shall always be supplied with certain information. This information includes the identity of the controller of personal data (IFAU), for what reason the information is collected, and other information that the respondent needs in order to safeguard his/her rights, in particular the name and phone number of the researcher making the survey. When answering a survey, the respondent gives his/her approval for IFAU using the information for the stated purpose. Information that has been gathered in a survey always indicates the individuals’ identity, partly because the respondents are normally selected using civic registration numbers and partly because identity and address are needed during the information gathering. If no other information is given to the respondent, the civic registration numbers are removed when the project is concluded. If you have responded to a questionnaire or have considered doing this and have questions about your personal data, please contact the personal data representative.
IFAU has very little personal data containing given identities that has been provided by another authority or organisation. It is also the aim of the institute that as little information as possible should contain identities.
The information is used for research in a specific project
Using personal data at IFAU almost always equals research within a specific research project. It can be said that the goal when using the information is the research carried out within the project. When a research project has been completed, and the results are published, the researcher thus no longer has the right to use the information. Exceptions from this rule are the research databases at IFAU, i.e. the Linda database and the IFAU database. The databases are unidentifiable in such a way as described in the previous paragraph. A selection of information can be collected from either of the databases for a research project. The data is then extracted by an administrator of the database. Data can only be extracted for use in IFAU’s own research projects.