Title of statistical activity: Estonian Social Survey

Code of statistical activity: 40003

  1. Contact
  2. Metadata update
  3. Statistical presentation
  4. Unit of measure
  5. Reference period
  6. Institutional mandate
  7. Confidentiality
  8. Release policy
  9. Frequency of dissemination
  10. Accessibility and clarity
  11. Quality management
  12. Relevance
  13. Accuracy and reliability
  14. Timeliness and punctuality
  15. Coherence and comparability
  16. Cost and burden
  17. Data revision
  18. Statistical processing

1. Contact Individual or organisational contact points for the data or metadata, including information on how to reach the contact points.

1.1. Contact organisation The name of the organisation of the contact points for the data or metadata.

Statistics Estonia

1.2. Contact organisation unit An addressable subdivision of an organisation.

Population and Social Statistics Department

1.3. Contact name The name of the contact points for the data or metadata.

Anet Müürsoo

1.4. Contact person function The area of technical responsibility of the contact, such as "methodology", "database management" or "dissemination".

Leading Analyst

1.5. Contact mail address The postal address of the contact points for the data or metadata.

78 Tiigi Str, 50410 Tartu, Estonia

1.6. Contact email address E-mail address of the contact points for the data or metadata.


1.7. Contact phone number The telephone number of the contact points for the data or metadata.

+372 625 8402

2. Metadata update The date on which the metadata element was inserted or modified in the database.

2.1. Metadata last certified Date of the latest certification provided by the domain manager to confirm that the metadata posted are still up-to-date, even if the content has not been amended.


2.2. Metadata last update Date of last update of the content of the metadata.


3. Statistical presentation

3.1. Data description Main characteristics of the data set described in an easily understandable manner, referring to the data and indicators disseminated.

Dwelling and living conditions, health, employment and job search, income, economic well-being, social exclusion, poverty risk, childcare, etc. The results are analysed by household composition. The output is based on the education, social status, sex, age and other important characteristics of household members.

3.2. Classification system Arrangement or division of objects into groups based on characteristics which the objects have in common.

Classification of Estonian administrative units and settlements (EHAK)

Estonian Classification of Economic Activities (EMTAK 2008) based on NACE Rev. 2

International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO 08)

National Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011)

Classification of fields of education and training 2013

International Standard Codes for the Representation of the Names of Countries (ISO 3166)

Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages (ISO 639-2)

Classification of Ethnicities

3.3. Sector coverage Main economic or other sectors covered by the statistics.


3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions Statistical characteristics of statistical observations.

At-risk-of-poverty rate – share of persons with an equivalised annual disposable income lower than the at-risk-of-poverty threshold.

At-risk-of-poverty threshold – 60% of the median equivalised annual disposable income of household members.

Disposable (net) income – a sum of income from wage labour and self-employment, property income, social transfers, regular inter-household cash transfers received and receipts for tax adjustment of which inter-household cash transfers paid, taxes on wealth and repayments for tax adjustment have been subtracted.

Equalised income – total household income, which is divided by a sum of equivalence scales of all household members.

Household – a group of people who live in a common dwelling (at the same address), share joint financial and/or food resources and whose members consider themselves to belong to the same household. A household may also consist of one member only.

Income quintile – one fifth of the population based on equivalised annual disposable income. The first or the lowest quintile contains one fifth of the population receiving the lowest income, the second quintile contains the next fifth and so on.

3.5. Statistical unit Entity for which information is sought and for which statistics are ultimately compiled.



3.6. Statistical population The total membership or population or "universe" of a defined class of people, objects or events.

Households whose usual place of residence is in Estonia, and the members of these households, excluding persons living in institutions (children’s homes, care homes, monasteries, convents, etc.)


The list of permanent residents of Estonia based on the 2011 Population and Housing Census and the Population Register

3.7. Reference area The country or geographic area to which the measured statistical phenomenon relates.

Estonia as a whole

3.8. Time coverage The length of time for which data are available.


3.9. Base period The period of time used as the base of an index number, or to which a constant series refers.

Not applicable

4. Unit of measure The unit in which the data values are measured.

percentage, euro

5. Reference period The period of time or point in time to which the measured observation is intended to refer.


6. Institutional mandate

6.1. Legal acts and other agreements Legal acts or other formal or informal agreements that assign responsibility as well as the authority to an agency for the collection, processing, and dissemination of statistics.


Commission Regulation (EC) No 1982/2003 of 21 October 2003 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the sampling and tracing rules

Regulation (EU) 2015/458 of 19 March 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 657/2007 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 1165/98 concerning short-term statistics as regards the establishment of European sample schemes

Regulation (EU) No 481/2010 of 1 June 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the 2011 list of target secondary variables on intergenerational transmission of disadvantages

regulation (EC) No 315/2006 of 22 February 2006 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the list of target secondary variables relating to housing conditions

Commission Regulation (EC) No 16/2004 of 6 January 2004 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the list of target secondary variables relating to the "intergenerational transmission of poverty"

Commission Regulation (EU) No 112/2013 of 7 February 2013 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the 2014 list of target secondary variables on material deprivation

Council Regulation (EC) No 362/2008 of 14 April 2008 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the 2009 list of target secondary variables on material deprivation

Commission Regulation (EC) No 28/2004 of 5 January 2004 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the detailed content of intermediate and final quality reports

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1983/2003 of 7 November 2003 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) as regards the list of target primary variables

Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)


Not available


Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)

7. Confidentiality A property of data indicating the extent to which their unauthorised disclosure could be prejudicial or harmful to the interest of the source or other relevant parties.

7.1. Confidentiality - policy Legislative measures or other formal procedures which prevent unauthorised disclosure of data that identify a person or economic entity either directly or indirectly.

The dissemination of data collected for the purpose of producing official statistics is guided by the requirements provided for in § 32, § 34, § 35, § 38 of the Official Statistics Act.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment Rules applied for treating the data set to ensure statistical confidentiality and prevent unauthorised disclosure.

The treatment of confidential data is regulated by the Procedure for Protection of Data Collected and Processed by Statistics Estonia: https://www.stat.ee/66485.

8. Release policy Rules for disseminating statistical data to interested parties.

8.1. Release calendar The schedule of statistical release dates.

Notifications about the dissemination of statistics are published in the release calendar, which is available on the website. Every year on 1 October, the release times of the statistical database, news releases, main indicators by IMF SDDS and publications for the following year are announced in the release calendar (in the case of publications – the release month).

8.2. Release calendar access Access to the release calendar information.


8.3. User access The policy for release of the data to users, the scope of dissemination (e.g. to the public, to selected users), how users are informed that the data are being released, and whether the policy determines the dissemination of statistical data to all users.

All users have been granted equal access to official statistics: dissemination dates of official statistics are announced in advance and no user category (incl. Eurostat, state authorities and mass media) is provided access to official statistics before other users. Official statistics are first published in the statistical database. If there is also a news release, it is published simultaneously with data in the statistical database. Official statistics are available on the website at 8:00 a.m. on the date announced in the release calendar.

9. Frequency of dissemination The time interval at which the statistics are disseminated over a given time period.


10. Accessibility and clarity

10.1. News release Regular or ad-hoc press releases linked to the data.

The news release “Relative poverty” once a year. The news release can be viewed on the website at https://www.stat.ee/news-releases.

10.2. Publications Regular or ad-hoc publications in which the data are made available to the public.

Not published

10.3. Online database Information about on-line databases in which the disseminated data can be accessed.

Data are published under the subject area “Social life / Income” in the statistical database at http://pub.stat.ee.

10.4. Microdata access Information on whether micro-data are also disseminated.

The dissemination of data collected for the purpose of producing official statistics is guided by the requirements provided for in § 33, § 34, § 35, § 36, § 38 of the Official Statistics Act. Access to microdata and anonymisation of microdata are regulated by Statistics Estonia’s procedure for dissemination of confidential data for scientific purposes: https://www.stat.ee/dokumendid/51669.

Public data files are available free of charge to anybody who want to do statistical analyses based on microdata: https://www.stat.ee/51900.

10.5. Other References to the most important other data dissemination done.

Data serve as input for statistical activities 40009 “Income, poverty and material deprivation”, 40205 “Living conditions”, 40611 “Integration of disabled persons”, 40612 “Health” and 41001 “Social exclusion – Laeken indicators”.

10.6. Documentation on methodology Descriptive text and references to methodological documents available.

The Estonian Social Survey. Methodological Report, Statistics Estonia (2010)


10.7. Quality documentation Documentation on procedures applied for quality management and quality assessment.

The quality report sent to Eurostat is available at https://circabc.europa.eu/faces/jsp/extension/wai/navigation/container.jsp.

11. Quality management Systems and frameworks in place within an organisation to manage the quality of statistical products and processes.

11.1. Quality assurance All systematic activities implemented that can be demonstrated to provide confidence that the processes will fulfil the requirements for the statistical output.

To assure the quality of processes and products, Statistics Estonia applies the EFQM Excellence Model, the European Statistics Code of Practice and the Quality Assurance Framework of the European Statistical System (ESS QAF). Statistics Estonia is also guided by the requirements in § 7. “Principles and quality criteria of producing official statistics” of the Official Statistics Act.

11.2. Quality assessment Overall assessment of data quality, based on standard quality criteria.

Statistics Estonia performs all statistical activities according to an international model (Generic Statistical Business Process Model – GSBPM). According to the GSBPM, the final phase of statistical activities is overall evaluation using information gathered in each phase or sub-process; this information can take many forms, including feedback from users, process metadata, system metrics and suggestions from employees. This information is used to prepare the evaluation report which outlines all the quality problems related to the specific statistical activity and serves as input for improvement actions.

Standardised output has been achieved through the definition of specific formats (list and description of output variables; data formats) and the determination of fixed deadlines for data transmission.

12. Relevance The degree to which statistical information meet current and potential needs of the users.

12.1. User needs Description of users and their respective needs with respect to the statistical data.

Ministry of Social Affairs

The main users of ESS (EU-SILC) are:

- European Union institutions, government authorities (in Estonia, mostly the Ministry of Social Affairs – social protection and social inclusion issues), international organisations (e.g. OECD, UNICEF);

- annual yearbooks and other publications (incl. analytical compilations) of Statistics Estonia and Eurostat;

- researchers who have access to microdata;

- end users (consumers), incl. the media, who are interested in the statistics on living conditions, incomes and social inclusion in Estonia and the European Union.

Users’ suggestions and information about taking these into account are available on the website of Statistics Estonia at https://www.stat.ee/statistikatood.

12.2. User satisfaction Measures to determine user satisfaction.

Since 1996, Statistics Estonia has conducted reputation and user satisfaction surveys.

All results are available on the website at https://www.stat.ee/user-surveys.

12.3. Completeness The extent to which all statistics that are needed are available.

The data are complete and in compliance with the data composition requirements of EU-SILC regulation of the European Commission.

13. Accuracy and reliability Accuracy: closeness of computations or estimates to the exact or true values that the statistics were intended to measure.
Reliability: closeness of the initial estimated value to the subsequent estimated value.

13.1. Overall accuracy Assessment of accuracy, linked to a certain data set or domain, which is summarising the various components.

The accuracy of source data is monitored by assessing the methodological soundness of data sources and the adherence to the methodological recommendations.

The type of survey and the data collection methods ensure sufficient coverage and timeliness.

13.2. Sampling error That part of the difference between a population value and an estimate thereof, derived from a random sample, which is due to the fact that only a subset of the population is enumerated.

Sampling error estimates are calculated for all indicators found, but these are published only for more important indicators.

For more complicated survey designs, such as the Estonian Social Survey (ESS), ordinary statistical assumptions about independent and identical distribution of variables cannot be taken as basis. In the case of Laeken indicators, their nonlinearity also makes calculation of standard error more complicated. Additionally, it must be kept in mind that ordinary rules for calculating standard errors have been developed for samples without replacement. Concerning the ESS design, a sample with replacement is used at the level of households, because every household occurs in the sample frame with all its members.

Therefore, a two-step procedure is used for calculating standard errors for Laeken indicators. At first, the indicators are linearized by using linearization procedures developed by Eurostat. Then, the standard error is computed for the total sum of obtained new variable as a standard error of the respective indicator. The program Bascula is used for computing standard errors.

The standard errors are computed by resampling method; a number of sub-samples are taken from the initial sample and the standard errors are computed based on the variability of sub-sample estimates.

13.3. Non-sampling error Error in survey estimates which cannot be attributed to sampling fluctuations.

Although a person has the obligation to ensure correctness of residential address in the population register, there is some under-coverage of persons and households there. Assuming that all permanent residents of Estonia are registered in the Population Register and considering the share of inaccurate addresses in the Population Register, the rate of under-coverage among households is no more than 1–1.5%. The overall response rate is 61% for households interviewed for the first time and 88% for households interviewed for at least the second time. The detailed response rates are published in the Statistical Database.

Measurement errors may be caused by the questionnaire (wording of questions, questionnaire structure), respondents, interviewers and the data collection method. It is not possible to prevent all this type of measurement errors in social surveys, but Statistics Estonia has tried to limit their amount as much as possible.

The data are checked in three stages: initial check upon data entry during the interview (on the laptop), secondary check of newly received data at the office, and finally data cleaning.

The initial logic checks in the entry program are continually improved, which has reduced the number of errors during data entry.

The extreme values of all income components and total income are checked and handled separately.

14. Timeliness and punctuality

14.1. Timeliness Length of time between data availability and the event or phenomenon they describe.

Preliminary data are published 160 days after the field-work.

Final data and microdata files are published 240 days after the end of the reference year (T + 240).

14.2. Punctuality Time lag between the actual delivery of the data and the target date when it should have been delivered.

The data have been published at the time announced in the release calendar.

15. Coherence and comparability

15.1. Comparability - geographical The extent to which statistics are comparable between geographical areas.

The Estonian social survey is part of the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), which is coordinated by Eurostat. An EU-SILC survey is conducted in all EU member states and in Ireland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey based on a harmonized methodology that allows publication of internationally comparable statistics on poverty, inequality and income.

15.2. Comparability - over time The extent to which statistics are comparable or reconcilable over time.

In 2004, Statistics Estonia launched the Estonian social survey general survey, which was preceded by pilot surveys in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The first longitudinal data were compiled in 2008 when the first panel of households exited the survey after having participated for four years.

Until 2007, income did not include money saved on goods produced solely for own consumption and on imputed rent, i.e. money that a household saves on rent by living in its own dwelling. After 2007, these types of income are included in the total household income.

Starting from 2007, mortgage interest payments are deducted from total household income, which in previous years were not taken into account in the calculation of income.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain The extent to which statistics are reconcilable with those obtained through other data sources or statistical domains.

Differences in the methodology, especially in the data collection instrument, need to be taken into account when comparing the statistics with data from other sources.

15.4. Coherence - internal The extent to which statistics are consistent within a given data set.

The internal consistency of the data is ensured by the use of a common methodology for data collection and data aggregation.

Before the beginning of the Estonian social survey, incomes, and based on that poverty and inequality indicators were calculated on the basis of Household budget survey data.

16. Cost and burden Cost associated with the collection and production of a statistical product and burden on respondents.

Cost of statistical activity 384.7 thousand euros (data for 2018)

17. Data revision Any change in a value of a statistic released to the public.

17.1. Data revision - policy Policy aimed at ensuring the transparency of disseminated data, whereby preliminary data are compiled that are later revised.

The data revision policy and notification of corrections are described in the dissemination policy of Statistics Estonia at https://www.stat.ee/dissemination-policy.

17.2. Data revision - practice Information on the data revision practice.

Not applicable

18. Statistical processing

18.1. Source data Characteristics and components of the raw statistical data used for compiling statistical aggregates.


The population consists of all private households whose usual place of residence is in Estonia and the members of these households who do not live in institutions (children’s homes, care homes, monasteries, convents, prisons, etc.). About 1% of the population of Estonia is excluded from the survey.

The sample includes 7,800 households. Systematic stratified random sampling is used. The stratification is based on place of residence. The 15 counties and Tallinn city are divided into four strata by population size: I – Tallinn; II – four bigger counties (Harju (excl. Tallinn), Ida-Viru, Pärnu and Tartu counties); III – ten smaller counties (Jõgeva, Järva, Lääne, Lääne-Viru, Põlva, Rapla, Saare, Valga, Viljandi and Võru counties); IV – Hiiu county.


The following data are received from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board: data on income tax returns for resident natural persons (form A), business income of resident natural person (form E), declaration of income and social tax, unemployment insurance premiums and contributions to mandatory funded pension (form TSD); and unemployment insurance benefits and taxes paid on income.

The following data are received from the Social Insurance Board: amount and time of payment of benefits, pensions and allowances (by type) paid on the basis of the State Pension Insurance Act, State Family Benefits Act, Parental Benefit Act and Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act; data on percentage of loss of capacity for work (20, 30, etc. until 100) and on degree of disability (moderate, severe, profound); data on old-age pension, pension for incapacity for work, parental benefits, child allowances and maintenance allowance.

The following data are received from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund: amount of benefits for temporary incapacity for work, income tax withheld, number of calendar days and type of benefit; and delivery records.

The data received from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, the register of registered unemployed persons and jobseekers and labour market services, State Pension Insurance Register and health insurance database are used to check the quality of the collected data regarding income.

Starting from 2013, the following data are used: from the Social Insurance Board old-age pension, pension for incapacity for work, survivor’s benefits, parental benefits, child allowances, maintenance allowance; from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund unemployment insurance benefits, layoff benefits, employer insolvency benefits, enterprise creation support, unemployment benefits; since 2016, the data are obtained concerning partial and no work ability.


Not used

18.2. Frequency of data collection Frequency with which the source data are collected.


18.3. Data collection Systematic process of gathering data for official statistics.

Data are collected from individuals. The methods used for collecting the data include a personal interview (CAPI), in the case of recurring one-member households a telephone interview (CATI) or a web interview (CAWI), which the respondents complete independently. The interviews are conducted by Statistics Estonia's telephone interviewers with relevant training. The Survey Fieldwork Information System is used to manage and monitor data collection. The questionnaires have been designed to be filled in electronically by the respondent. The information related to data submission is available on Statistics Estonia's website at https://www.stat.ee/11757.

The data are collected with the official statistics questionnaires “Estonian Social Survey. Household questionnaire” and “Estonian Social Survey. Personal questionnaire”.

Data from Tax and Customs Board are received via an FTP-server and X-Road. Data from the Social Insurance Board and Estonian Health Insurance Fund are received via an FTP-server.

18.4. Data validation Process of monitoring the results of data compilation and ensuring the quality of statistical results.

Arithmetic and qualitative controls are used in the validation process, including comparison with other data. Before data dissemination, the internal coherence of the data is checked.

18.5. Data compilation Operations performed on data to derive new information according to a given set of rules.

In the case of missing or unreliable data, estimate imputation based on established regulations will be used. According to the regulation of the European Commission, all missing values of income variables should be imputed. As a rule, statistical imputation is the method used for that.

In case of within-household non-response, the persons who have not responded are imputed by using a person, characterized by similar variables, who is selected from among the responded persons by using the nearest neighbour method.

Variables and statistical units which were not collected but which are necessary for producing the output are calculated. New variables are calculated by applying arithmetic conversion to already existing variables. This may be done repeatedly, the derived variable may, in turn, be based on previously derived new variables.

For statistical units weights are calculated, which are used to expand the data of the sample survey to the total population.

The weights are calculated on the basis of design weights derived from inclusion probabilities. The weights, which are first adjusted to compensate for the bias caused by non-response and then calibrated to the population data, are used in calculating the final data. The basis of the calibration is the distribution of the population of Estonia by sex and age group and county on the 1st of January according to demographic data.

Microdata are aggregated to the level necessary for analysis. This includes summation of data according to the classification and calculating various statistical measures, e.g. average, median, dispersion, etc. The collected data are converted into statistical output. This includes calculating additional variables.

18.6. Adjustment The set of procedures employed to modify statistical data to enable it to conform to national or international standards or to address data quality differences when compiling specific data sets.

Not applicable

19. Comments Supplementary descriptive text which can be attached to data or metadata.

Not available