National statistics and ILO compilation activities

When using a status in employment classification, one needs to identify appropriate status-in-employment categories and record them with the corresponding code. In statistical surveys it is almost always the respondent or an interviewer who select one of the main categories from a list, i.e. they are the coders. In administrative records, e.g. for the purpose of taxation, it is normally the administrative officers who will determine the correct category to be applied, based on the relevant regulations and information provided by the respondent.

In countries with well developed systems for labour contracts and income tax regulations most respondents in a statistical survey will find it easy to reply to a question such as “In your/name (main) job are you/name working as a paid employee, an own account worker, an employer, a member of a producers’ cooperative or contributing to a family business?” Almost all national statistical offices in these countries therefore have used this form of question, and have not tried to explore the existence and importance of the type of special situations mentioned above, with the exception of ‘owner-managers of incorporated enterprises’. Mostly this has been because such special situations may have been thought to be of limited numerical importance.

The statistical offices in most other countries have also used the type of question given above; even though there are reasons to believe that the respondents cannot easily associate their work situation with the categories mentioned in the manner intended by the users of the resulting statistics; and even though a number of the special categories listed above may be numerically very significant. In these countries it might therefore be more appropriate to introduce such groups as pre-coded categories and train the interviewers to code to them on the basis of the respondents’ replies to carefully designed questions. However, so far the experiments needed to evaluate this approach and to arrive at good questions have not been performed.

Most countries produce employment and unemployment statistics by status in employment from Population Censuses and household-based surveys. The online database ILOSTAT contains statistical series on the labour force by sex and status in employment since 1945.