The Administrative Data Research Network was an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 to July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, which was launched at the end of 2018.

Visit the Administrative Data Research Partnership for further information. 

This archival website reflects the state of play at the end of the project in July 2018. All content has been frozen and may not be up to date.

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Productive Society: employment related productivity

Scope and purpose

The Productive Society Theme is focusing on employment, in particular business employment and business growth.  Its first priority is to gain a better understanding of the ‘productivity puzzle’, and to that end wishes to work with ONS and others to build a dataset that links relevant data about employers with relevant data about their employees (or vice versa).  Such a dataset would be designed to enable research exploring what explains differences in productivity in different sectors of the economy, in different regions, in businesses with different leadership and management practices, according to different patterns of trade, or with different investment behaviours.  In some ways this work will inform the World Of Work theme, and vice versa. 


The Productive Society Partnership will adopt objectives at each of its Partner meetings. At the first meeting, it was proposed “To construct a dataset linking employees and their characteristics to their employers and their characteristics, initially for the purposes of examining the productivity puzzle but to provide a basis for adding future variables that can describe economic change.” This objective is subject to agreement once its feasibility has been explored and reported to partners.

Such a dataset would form a basis for future enhancement that would include other administrative records relating to employees and employer characteristics being added in accordance with the Partnership’s understanding of research and policy evidence needs.

The process we follow from agreement of objective through to use 

There are two main approaches to the use of administrative data to enhance research and to fill evidence gaps for themes.

  1. we will seek to enhance existing longitudinal and cohort studies by assisting them in the acquisition of administrative data to extend the breadth and depth of these studies capabilities, and
  2. we will create new study datasets, and curate them to provide a data resource that can form the foundation of new scientific research and respond to policy evidence inquiries.

Work currently underway

Initial scoping and partnership development.

Partnership Meetings

The first meeting was held on 10th October 2017 and was attended by representatives from invited Partner organisations.   The agenda asked Partners for their views on the key social and economic issues faced by employees and employers in relation to productivity, what insights are needed to better understand those issues, and therefore what administrative data should be prepared and used to support the necessary scientific research and provide the information for the targeted insights.


Paul Johnson, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Theme leader

This them is led by Peter Smith, Director of the Administrative Data Research Netowrk (ADRN) and the Administrative Research Centre for England (ADRC-E). Peter is Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Southampton. His research interests are in developing new statistical methodology, including methods for handling non-response and for modelling longitudinal data, and applying sophisticated statistical methods to problems in demography, medicine and health sciences. He was Joint Editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series C (Applied Statistics) from 2013 to 2016 and was awarded the Society’s Guy Medal in Bronze in 1999.

Partner organisations

Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Office for National Statistics, HM Revenue and Customs, What Works Centre for Wellbeing, Department for Communities and Local Government, The Nuffield Foundation, Institute for Fiscal Studies, The Turing Institute, Centre for Cities, ESRC, University of Essex, Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Correspondence sent out to Partners

Letter of invitation to join the Partnership

Follow-up letter for first Objective

Next meeting(s)


Page last updated: 31/07/2018