cade ago that coordinated research efforts between in-house and outside researchers offer the best model for ensuring that agencies maximize the benefits from data users. In fact, McGuckin (1992:19) argued that it is a primary responsibility of statistical agencies to facilitate researcher access to confidential microdata files. Such access, by improving the microdata for research and policy analysis, will also improve the quality and usefulness of the aggregate statistics on trends and distributions that are the bread and butter of statistical agency output.

Researcher access is critical for addressing the data gaps highlighted in this chapter. Data sharing with accompanying data integration and coordination within the statistical agencies will go a long way toward improvements in business statistics. However, many difficult conceptual and measurement issues must be confronted, and a partnership between the statistical agencies and the research community is vital to such efforts. It is useful to note that major innovations in measuring business dynamics have stemmed from partnerships. The methodology underlying the job creation and destruction measures now part of the BED and the LEHD programs was developed under joint projects between Census Bureau staff and external researchers at the Center for Economic Studies (see Davis, Haltiwanger, and Schuh, 1996, for discussion of this partnership). A joint project between John Abowd and the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (see Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis, 1999, and Abowd, Corbel, and Kramarz, 1999) and a related joint project between Julia Lane and the Census Bureau (see Burgess, Lane, and Stevens, 2001, and Haltiwanger, Lane, and Spletzer, 1999) led to critical conceptual and measurement breakthroughs that underlie many of the key data products of the LEHD program.17

Throughout this report, we document the value of business data, particularly when it can be disaggregated along geographic and other dimensions. However, as noted in Chapter 3, the presence of geographically specific identifiers along with other variables in a database gives rise to confidentiality issues.18 Social scientists have begun to grapple with the

17

It is also worth emphasizing that the joint statistical agency and research community projects discussed here have been jointly funded by the statistical agencies and major public and private organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institute on Aging, the Sloan Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation.

18

A 2001 article reporting the results of a survey conducted by the Urban Institute indicates that business taxpayers are willing to allow more access to statistical agencies for some types of tax return information (Greenia, Lane, and Jensen, 2001). Of particular interest to the issue of privacy interests is the response to a set of questions about types of data businesses view as very sensitive. The survey results showed that less than 5 percent of respon-



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement