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Emerging data: Creating analytical value from government administrative files

Keith Dugmore, Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice Vol. 17, No. 4 ()
The growth of computerised government administrative files provides new opportunities for creating analytical value for a wide range of topics. The adoption of address postcodes, when linked to grid references, enables the creation of small area statistics, and also facilitates the mapping of results, which has been further encouraged by the Office for National Statistics’ adoption of postcode-based Output Areas as a standard statistical geography. Postcodes also provide a vital key when seeking to match individual records from different sources. Administrative records have obvious attractions: they often cover very nearly 100% of the relevant population; information is also gathered using the same methods across England (and sometimes Great Britain or the United Kingdom as a whole) and, unlike the Census, are updated frequently; they also include hot topics, such as Income. This paper illustrates some of the possible census-like topics that could be available from government files. It then reviews the patchy progress over recent decades, before giving recent examples of the increasing pressure to make more use of government administrative files, and the possibility of now making a long-awaited breakthrough.

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