Definition: Most frequent activity status

Social statistics

During the ECHP interviews, each person aged 16 or more is asked to state for each month of the previous year their main activity (Paid employment, Self-employment, Paid apprenticeship or training under special schemes related to employment, Unpaid work in family enterprise, Unemployed, Retired, In education or training, Doing housework, Looking after children or other persons, In community or military service or Otherwise economically inactive). From this "calendar of activities" the most frequent activity of a person is defined as follows:

a) First, the person is classified into one of only two categories: economically active (employed or unemployed), versus economically inactive. This is done on the basis of the number of months spent in either state, with priority given to work over non-work in case a person is active for 6 months and inactive for the other 6 months of the year. 

b1) Next, persons classified as "economically active" are classified as "employed" if within the months of activity, the period of "employement" equals or exceeds the period of "unemployment"; otherwise, they are classified as "unemployed". Employed persons are then classified as "employed, but not self-employed" (if they have been in "paid employment", "paid apprenticeship or training under special schemes related to employment" or "working unpaid in family enterprise" for at least half of the time) or "self-employed" (more than half of the time in "self-employment"). 

b2) Persons classified as "economically inactive" are then further classified into the categories "retired" and "other economically inactive" on the basis of the majority criterion, with priority given to "retirement" over "other economically inactive" in case a person is "retired" for the same number of months as they are "other economically inactive". 

Thus the following categories can be distinguished:

Economically active
   Employed  
     Employed, but not self-employed  
     Self-employed 
   Unemployed  

Economically inactive
   Retired  
   Other economically inactive
Source:
Eurostat, "European Community Household Panel (ECHP) - Selected indicators from the 1995 wave", Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 1999
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