New linked dataset available to provide insights into earnings and employment in England and Wales

8 September 2022

Using the ASHE – 2011 Census linked dataset, researchers can explore how factors such as gender, ethnicity, disability and migration affect individual’s wage levels and pay progression. Access to this data will provide fresh insights into things such as the experiences of young people entering the labour market, job mobility, and career progression to retirement. This will enable policymakers to make better-informed decisions to improve the experiences of people in employment.

About the data

The ASHE dataset is an annual survey based on a 1% sample of employee jobs, drawn from the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) register, and conducted by the ONS. This de-identified dataset contains information on employees’ earnings, paid hours, occupation as well as a limited number of personal characteristics: gender, age, and residential location.

To expand the number of de-identified, personal characteristics that can be observed for employees, the ASHE dataset has been linked to the 2011 Census. The 2011 Census dataset includes characteristics such as educational and vocational qualifications, health, disability, and household circumstances for individuals in England and Wales.

The 2011 Census has been matched to all employees observed in ASHE in either 2010, 2011 or 2012. The ASHE - 2011 Census linked dataset therefore covers the period 1997-2020, but only includes individuals who were in 2011 Census and were able to be matched to individuals in either ASHE 2010, 2011 or 2012.

The linked ASHE - 2011 Census dataset allows researchers to examine pay and career progression of a cohort of individuals who were in employment around the time of the 2011 Census. This data is linked and made available under the provisions of the 2017 Digital Economy Act, which provides a legal gateway for researchers to access government data in a secure way. For more information about the linked dataset, see the ASHE – 2011 Census user guide.

Huge potential for this dataset

This dataset will help to fill a crucial evidence gap in information about the experiences of individuals in the labour market. Importantly, for example, ASHE - 2011 Census will enable researchers to understand the underlying causes of intersectional pay gaps and provide a deeper understanding of how demographic factors have informed labour market transitions.

The dataset could help answer a range of research questions to inform policy, such as:

  • How do personal characteristics such as household structure affect wage progression?
  • How does wage progression differ depending on characteristics such as gender, disability, or ethnicity?  
  • What role do employers play in wage inequality?  
  • What are the returns on investment from education?
  • What is the relationship between migration and the labour market?

Tim Butcher, Chief Economist, Low Pay Commission said: The WED project addresses weaknesses in our evidence base – improving the quality of longitudinal earnings data and extending coverage to a broader range of characteristics – that should enable researchers to give new and innovative insights into the wage and employment dynamics of the lowest paid.

How to access the dataset

The ASHE - 2011 Census dataset is available from the ONS Secure Research Service. Access to the dataset is managed securely in line with the Five Safes framework. Accredited researchers can apply to access the data by submitting a project application. For more guidance on submitting project applications, visit the ONS Secure Research Service.

The ASHE - 2011 Census linked dataset was produced as a collaboration between ADR UK, the ONS and the Wage and Employment Dynamics project team. The project team is led by the University of the West of England, and involves partners from UCL, Bayes Business School, the University of Reading and National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

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