Average exit age from the labour force - annual data (lfsi_exi_a)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
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. Dissemination format
11. Accessibility of documentation
12. Quality management
13. Relevance
14. Accuracy
15. Timeliness and punctuality
16. Comparability
17. Coherence
18. Cost and Burden
19. Data revision
20. Statistical processing
21. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union
1.2. Contact organisation unit Unit F3: Labour market
1.5. Contact mail address 2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 18/06/2014
2.2. Metadata last posted 18/06/2014
2.3. Metadata last update 18/06/2014

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The indicator 'average exit age from the labour force' gives the average age of withdrawal from labour market. While based on European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) data, the indicator is calculated with special methods and periodidicty which justify the present page.

The indicator is estimated with a probabilistic model, documented below, fed with data from the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS). The input data are activity rates by single age group.

The indicator of 'Average exit age from the labour market' is published in the section 'LFS main indicators', which is a collection of the main statistics on the labour market.

There are mainly two reasons to estimate the indicator with this probabilistic model instead of using a method based on self-reported retirement age, or based on people receiving pensions benefits:

1. EU-LFS data used follows definitions of employment and unemployment after the International Labour Organisation, as opposed to the notion of "being retired". There is no internationally harmonized statistical definition of retirement.

2. The method used allows to (indirectly) count definitive exits from the labour market. Instead, a retired person could potentially decide to return to the labour market, hence his/her exit would not be definitive.

3.2. Classification system

The definitions of indicators conform to the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

3.3. Coverage - sector

As a general rule the indicator 'exit age from the labour market' covers all economic sectors.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The indicator 'average exit age from the labour force' gives the average age of withdrawal from labour market. It is based on a probability model considering the relative changes of activity rates from one year to another at a specific age.

The input data

Starting points are the activity rates per age and year a (age,year) coming from the quarterly EU Labour Force Survey (see link in section 21.2 below).

The activity rate represents the labour force (employed and unemployed population) as a percentage of the total population for a given age. Employed persons are all persons who worked at least one hour for pay or profit during the reference week or were temporarily absent from such work. Unemployed persons are all persons who were not employed during the reference week and had actively sought work during the past four weeks and were ready to begin working immediately or within two weeks.

The model

Eurostat uses a so-called dynamic exit age model, which is a variant of the static exit age indicator proposed by OECD ('Age of Withdrawal from the Labour Force in OECD Countries', Labour Market and Social Policy - Occasional Papers No. 49, OECD, 2002)

The dynamic exit age indicator is calculated with activity rates by single ages and years, considering people aged 50 to 70 years. The model starts with the conditional probability of an age cohort to stay in the labour force at age a. This is given through

(1) ps a, y = r a, y / r a-1, y-1

0 ≤ ps a, y ≤ 1

ps         Probability to stay

r           activity rate

a          single age

y          year of observation

In cases were relation (1) exceeds 1, a hundred percent probability to stay in the labour force is assumed. This avoids negative values of the reversal probability not to stay in the labour force. This is given through

(2) pns a, y = 1 - ps a, y

pns        Probability not to stay

The probability still to be in the labour force at a certain age is equal to the overall probability to stay in the labour force from a starting age a0 up to the age specified. As this is the probability at the entry to age a, the ages range from a0 to a-1.

(3) pin a, y = Õ?j = a0..a-1 ps j, y

pin        Probability to be in the labour market

j           Index of age range a0 to a-1

In the Eurostat model a0 is fixed to age 50. From this age onwards activity rates usually decline.

The probability of withdrawing from the labour force at a certain age is equal to the probability of still being in the labour market at age a combined with the probability not to


(4) pw a, y = pin a, y pns a, y

pw         Probability to withdraw

The sum of all probabilities to withdraw between a0 and amax is 1. The Eurostat model assumes that amax is 70. From this age onwards all persons withdrew from the labour force. pw is zero at this and the following ages.

The average exit age (e) is finally calculated as the average of all ages weighted by the probabilities to withdraw:

(5) e y = Σ j = a0..amax pw j, y j

3.5. Statistical unit

Individuals living in private households. 

3.6. Statistical population

The EU-LFS results cover the total population usually residing in Member States, except for persons living in collective or institutional households. While demographic data are gathered for all age groups, questions relating to labour market status are restricted to persons in the age group of 15 years or older. In the EFTA countries participating in LFS, i.e. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, population data are not provided for the age-groups outside the scope of labour market questions. The EU-LFS covers all industries and occupations.

For more details and exceptions, please consult please consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology.

However only data for persons aged 50 to 70 are used in the calculation method of the indicator.

3.7. Reference area

European Union, Euro area, EU Member States, Candidate Countries, EFTA Countries (except for Liechtenstein). Data for Cyprus refer only to the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Data for France do not include the overseas departments (DOM).

3.8. Coverage - Time

The time coverage varies with indicator and country. Data for all participating countries are mostly available from 2001 to 2010.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Years of age.

5. Reference Period Top

The EU LFS measures the labour status and other characteristics during a reference week in each quarter of the reference quarter. The reference week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. From 2004, in all countries providing quarterly data, the quarterly sample is spread uniformly over all weeks of the quarter.

The reference quarter is the calendar quarter except for Ireland and the United Kingdom (until 2006), which use the seasonal quarter (Dec-Feb, Mar-May, Jun-Aug, Sep-Nov).

Annual results are calculated averaging quarterly data.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

The EU-LFS is based on European legislation since 1973. It's implementation is governed by legislative acts of the Council and Parliament, as well as of the Commission. The principal legal act is the Council Regulation (EC) No. 577/98. The implementation rules are specified in the successive Commission regulations. This is the main regulation with provisions on design, survey characteristics and decision making processes. For more details on the regulations, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Main features and legal basis.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

EU-LFS microdata as received by Eurostat from the national statistical institutes does not contain any administrative information such as names or addresses that would allow direct identification. Access to this microdata is nevertheless strictly controlled and limited to specified Eurostat staff. After data treatment, records are aggregated for all further use.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The release of EU LFS data is not bound by an advance release calendar. The data are published approximately 11 months after the end of the reference year.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Dissemination format') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


10. Dissemination format Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

Not applicable.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Being a Structural Indicator, the data are published in the statistical annex of the Lisbon Strategy Annual Progress report. It is also one of the Employment Guidelines indicators, published in the compendium of indicators to monitor the Lisbon Strategy.

The results are also published in several social publications of the European Commission (e.g. The Social Situation in the European Union).

The indicator is also used in the main Eurostat's publications, e.g. Yearbook, etc.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or refer to ESTAT-LFS-USER-SUPPORT@ec.europa.eu

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Micro-data are not applicable to 'LFS main indicators' results, but EU-LFS anonymised microdata are available for research purposes. Please refer to access to microdata

10.5. Dissemination format - other

See: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

11. Accessibility of documentation Top
11.1. Documentation on methodology

For a detailed description of methods and concepts used, as well as for other documents related to the EU-LFS, please consult the  EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage.

The EU-LFS disseminates also publications on the methodology of the survey. For more information please consult: Quality reporting.

11.2. Quality management - documentation

see section 11.1.

12. Quality management Top
12.1. Quality assurance

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

12.2. Quality management - assessment

The overall quality assessment is medium. The result quality is high in some Member States, but not in all. Occasionally the indicator shows a trend downwards which is counter-intuitive when looking at the evolution of the activity rates by age. At the root of the problem there are two issues: the ratio in equation 1 described in section 3.4. could get values higher than 1, in that case the value is replaced by 1 but it affects the result by lowering it. Secondly, the sample size of the EU-LFS is very limited for persons in the age group above 65 years of age, it implies higher sampling errors. DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal opportunities from the Commission is working on solutions to those problems.

Values judged implausible are not published. This is the reason for some data gaps in few countries in recent years' data.

13. Relevance Top
13.1. Relevance - User Needs

This indicator is highly relevant. It is one of the Structural Indicators and a Sustainable Development Indicator. It is one of the Employment Guidelines indicators for the monitoring of progress in the Lisbon Stragety.

13.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Eurostat does not carry out satisfaction survey targeted at users of labour markets statistics. All new requests for labour market statistics are subject to scrutiny by the national experts and representatives of the NSIs and in particular for major topics of interest, for social research the instrument of ad hoc modules is used. The main institutional users other than the Commission are also known to the unit for Labour Market Statistics. Many of them are frequently consulted on various aspects of development and dissemination of labour force statistics.

13.3. Completeness

The indicator is available 2001 onwards for all Member States and European aggregates. Missing data are results not published due to lack of reliability explained in section 12.2 above.

14. Accuracy Top
14.1. Accuracy - overall

See section 12.2 above.

14.2. Sampling error

The indicator is indirectly subject to sampling error insofar EU-LFS is the data source which feeds the model. For details on EU-LFS please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

14.3. Non-sampling error

The indicator is indirectly subject to non-sampling error insofar EU-LFS is the data source which feeds the model. For details on EU-LFS please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

15. Timeliness and punctuality Top
15.1. Timeliness

Data are released approximately 11 months after the end of the reference year.

15.2. Punctuality

Not available

16. Comparability Top
16.1. Comparability - geographical

Comparability is ensured by the use of a common calculation method and a harmonised data source. EU-LFS is harmonised through a common Council regulation ((EC) No 577/98), common variable definition (Commission Regulation (EC) No 430/2005), common explanatory notes (The European Union Labour Force Survey. Methods and definitions - 2001) and common regulation (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1897/2000) regarding the definition of unemployment and the twelve principles of questionnaire.

16.2. Comparability - over time

Comparaibility over time is ensured by use of the same calculation method for all the series and the same data source. Although EU-LFS improvements in time have brought some time series break the comparability of the main indicators is high.

17. Coherence Top
17.1. Coherence - cross domain

Not applicable; there is no alternative source to calculate the same indicator with the same definitions (i.e. using ILO labour status)

17.2. Coherence - internal

The indicator 'average exit age from the labour market' use EU-LFS as data input, in particular from the data collection 'LFS main indicators'. It is coherent with it by construction.

18. Cost and Burden Top

Not available

19. Data revision Top
19.1. Data revision - policy

Not applicable.

19.2. Data revision - practice

Not applicable.

20. Statistical processing Top
20.1. Source data

The data are derived from the EU Labour Force Survey. For more information about the survey, please consult the  EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage. The activity rates taken into consideration are the average over four quarterly observed rates in the year considered. 'Spring' data (quarter 1 or 2) are used in case no quarterly LFS data are available (see footnotes in Annex "Average exit age from the labour force").

The Labour Force Survey is a rotating random sample survey of persons in private households.

20.2. Frequency of data collection

Since the early 2000's, the survey has quarterly periodicity, previously it was an annual survey run in spring.

20.3. Data collection

Data are acquired by interviewing the sampled individuals directly. Four modes of data collection exist for the EU-LFS: personal visits, telephone interviews, web interviews and self-administered questionnaires.

For more information please consult the corresponding LFS quality reporting.

20.4. Data validation

Prior to the dissemination of EU-LFS national data, Eurostat checks the quality and consistency of data transmitted by the National Statistical Institutes. Eurostat calculates LFS results and they are then validated by the Member States. Afterwards they can be published.

Member States validate input data for the indicators and are informed of the resulting value.

20.5. Data compilation

The probability model is applied on the activity rates of each gender (see footnotes for exceptions in the annex "Average exit age from the labour force"). The average exit age from the labour force for the whole population is obtained as a weighted average of the average exit age of each gender. The weights used for these calculations are provided by the EU Labour Force Survey (population aged 50-70 years by gender).

Aggregates for the European Union and Euro area countries are computed as a weighted average of the results obtained by country. They are provided on the basis of the data available.

20.6. Adjustment

The data quality (due to small sample sizes) in higher ages in some countries (BE, DK, IE, LU, NL, AT, FI, SE, IS, NO, CH, BG, CY, EE, HU, LV, LT, SI and SK) makes it necessary to artificially smooth the decline of activity rates linearly from age 65 to age 70 so that in the age 70 the active population in terms of the model is zero. (Linear "melt-away" hypothesis). In such cases, it is also necessary not to take the actual activity rate in the age 65 but to consider the moving average over the ages 64 to 66 instead.

21. Comment Top


Related metadata Top
employ_esms - Employment and unemployment (Labour Force Survey)

Annexes Top