Data and Documentation

Managing Jobs and Listings/Output when Using LISSY

If you are still experiencing a specific issue not addressed in this section, please feel free to contact usersupport@lisdatacenter.org. Whenever possible, please provide the user support with the following information:

  • The type of access used (JSI versus email).
  • The network and the operating system from which you attempted to access to LISSY (e.g.: at Princeton university on Windows7 64-bits).
  • A description of the exact stage at which the issue occurs. Any screenshot is welcome.
  • The error message you received if any.
  • The date and time when the problem occurs.
  • In addition if the problem is related to a specific job, please mention the job number.


What data are available?
The Luxembourg Income Study Database (LIS), focused on income microdata, contains harmonised datasets collected from multiple countries over a period of decades. The LIS datasets contain data on market income, public transfers and taxes, private transfers, household characteristics, labour market outcomes, and, in some datasets, expenditures. The datasets include household- and person-level microdata.

The Luxembourg Wealth Study Database (LWS), focused on wealth microdata, contains a smaller number of harmonized datasets. The LWS datasets include variables on assets and debt, market and government income, household characteristics, labour market outcomes and, in some datasets, expenditures and behavioural indicators. The LWS datasets contain household-level microdata.

Explore the variables in the LIS and LWS microdata to determine if they meet your research interest and inquiries.

I see references to the LIS Database and the LWS Database. What is the LES Database and can I access it?
The Luxembourg Employment Study Database (LES) is a third database that we constructed for use by comparative researchers.

LES contains harmonised data from labour force surveys for 16 countries at two time points – about 1990 and 1995 – and US 2000. After these two waves of LES data, we decided not to extend the LES Database to later years.

Instead, we substantially expanded the labour market data contained in the LIS Database, and implemented that change as of Wave V. While the labour force surveys in LES contained more (and more standardised) labour market data than is contained in most of our LIS datasets, many of our researchers indicated that they preferred to use the LIS datasets for employment-related research because that allows linking labour market outcomes to household characteristics, including household income.

LES Variable List

LES Dataset List

These two waves of LES data remain on our servers and, if you wish to access them, you may. Here are instructions for calling a LES dataset:

1. Start with a statistical package-specific heading to point to the alias.

& /



SPSS: (nothing)

2. Follow that with a dataset abbreviation concatenating the two-digit ISO country code with the last two-digits of the reference year.
3. End the alias with the one- to two-letter abbreviation used to identify the LES dataset:


Here is an example of an LES alias properly identified by LISSY:



How can I access the data for my analysis?
There are three pathways to access the data:

1. LISSY : A remote-execution system that allows research using the LIS or LWS microdata.
2. Web Tabulator: An online table-maker.
3. LIS Key Figures: Two sets of national indicators.

Currently, the Web Tabulator and the Key Figures only pertain to the LIS Database.

For more information, see Data Access.

Am I eligible to access the data?
If you are a student, in any country, you may access the microdata for free. If you are not a student, your access to the microdata depends upon whether your home country is an active financial contributor to LIS. If the  Access Eligibility chart indicates that you are subject to an individual user fee, and you wish to arrange payment, please contact admin@lisdatacenter.org.

Use of the microdata is for scholarly, research or educational purposes only. Use of the microdata for commercial purposes is never permitted.

If you are a researcher based in a supranational institution, please see Access Eligibility for Supranational Institutions.

All visitors to the LIS website may access the Key Figures and Working Papers.
The Web Tabulator requires registration, but is available free of charge.

How do I register to use the microdata?
You must be registered in order to access the microdata through LISSY or the Web Tabulator. The LIS Key Figures are public access and do not require registration.

Does LIS field its own surveys?
No. LIS collects datasets based on surveys that have been fielded by data providers in the participating countries. Then, our team in Luxembourg “harmonises” the microdata into a common template in order to make the datasets as comparable as possible across countries and over time.

Why can’t I download the microdata onto my computer?
Many of our data providers do not allow direct access to their microdata. LIS is obligated to comply with their restrictions.

Where do I send questions about the data, procedures, technical problems, and so on?
Please send all queries to usersupport@lisdatacenter.org.
When you send a query to LIS User Support, please include your name, title, affiliation, and a brief comment about your research project.

How should I cite the LIS data?
Users of the LIS or LWS microdata are required to cite the data source in their list of references. As suggested by the Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, 2007, pp. 753-754, 17.358), LIS requests that authors use the following format. Note that the text within the curly braces “{ }” should be replaced, by the author, with specific information.

How to cite the LIS microdata:
Luxembourg Income Study Database (LIS), www.lisdatacenter.org (multiple countries; {include the dates of the interval during which the microdata runs were completed}). Luxembourg: LIS.

How to cite the LWS microdata:
Luxembourg Wealth Study Database (LWS), www.lisdatacenter.org (multiple countries; {include the dates of the interval during which the microdata runs were completed}). Luxembourg: LIS.

How to cite the LES microdata:
Luxembourg Employment Study (LWS) Database, http://www.lisdatacenter.org (multiple countries; {include the dates of the interval during which microdata runs completed}). Luxembourg: LIS.

How to cite the Web Tabulator:
LIS Web Tabulator, www.lisdatacenter.org ({include the dates of the interval during which the Web Tabulator was accessed }). Luxembourg: LIS.

Key Figures:
LIS Inequality and Poverty Key Figures, http://www.lisdatacenter.org ({include date — when Key Figures were downloaded}). Luxembourg: LIS.
LIS Employment Key Figures by Gender, http://www.lisdatacenter.org ({include date — when Key Figures were downloaded}). Luxembourg: LIS.

Do I have to submit my paper to the Working Paper Series?
Yes. As stated in the user registration rules, all papers that use LIS microdata should be submitted to our Working Paper series. This requirement applies to papers that use the microdata directly and/or that use the Web Tabulator or the Key Figures.

LIS is more than willing to accommodate the needs and requirements of book, journal or other publishers. While it is relatively uncommon, some publishers ask that papers be removed from Working Paper series at the time of publication. On request, LIS will remove the paper although the title, authorship information, and abstract will remain in the LIS Working Paper database.

Note that some publishing venues ask that the Working Paper version be somewhat different from the published version. Authors generally send LIS the version of the paper that is initially sent for publication; thus, the Working Paper version would not include the publisher’s subsequent copy editing or formatting. Furthermore, authors are invited to revise Working Papers at any time; authors may simply send an updated version with a new date (marked “revised”) and LIS will replace the prior version of the Working Paper.

See LIS Working Paper Series Policies and Practices.

Data and Documentation

How are the data structured and identified?
Each LIS dataset refers to the microdata for one country and one year (identified by a two-letter code for the country, and a two-digit code for the year) and is composed of two files, one at the household level (identified by the “h” suffix) and one at the person level (identified by the “p” suffix). For example, the data file “LU04h” contains Luxembourg 2004 household-level LIS data. The dataset “LU04p” contains Luxembourg 2004 person-level LIS data.

Similarly, each LWS dataset refers to the microdata for one country and one year (identified by a two-letter code for the country, and a two-digit code for the year), but is composed of one household file only, identified with the “w” suffix. For example, the data file “CA99w” contains Canada 1999 LWS data.

What does the year in the dataset name refer to?
The year that is included in the name of the harmonised dataset refers to the year to which the income data pertain, that is, the income reference year. This convention applies to both the LIS and LWS Databases.

For example, if a survey was fielded in the spring of 2008, and asked respondents to report their income from the prior calendar year, we would label the dataset as a “2007” dataset.

Which countries are included in the LIS and LWS Databases?
The participating countries in the LIS Database.
The participating countries in the LWS Database.

Do the LIS and LWS Databases include only high-income countries?
LIS and LWS contain both high- and middle-income countries. To learn how the countries are classifed, please check our Classification by Country Income Level page.

Where can I find country-specific information and documentation?
Country-specific information and documentation for the LIS Database.
Country-specific information and documentation for the LWS Database.

Can the data be used for longitudinal analysis?
No. The LIS and LWS microdata are cross-sectional and cannot be used for household- or person-level longitudinal analysis, because there are no identifiers that link households or persons across waves of data.

Can the data be used for comparing results across multiple time points?
Yes. In the LIS Database, in most cases, datasets are available at multiple points in time – in some cases spanning decades. The LWS Database will include multiple time points as the database grows.

Can the data be used for regional analysis?
Yes. Many datasets have a geographic location indicator (LIS variable “REGION_C”). That allows you to compare outcomes across sub-national regions within countries.

You can also combine sub-national regions from more than one country, to compare, for example, economic outcomes in eastern Canada, with those in the eastern United States and in eastern Mexico. Or, you could combine those three into a new entity, such as “eastern North America”.

What does a value of “.” mean?
Observations coded as “.”mean that the information is not available. Consult the Guidelines for using the LIS and LWS data.

What is the difference between gross income datasets and net income datasets? How should I treat them in my analysis?
In the LIS Database, in many datasets, detailed income variables are filled – as is ideal – with gross values, that is, values before taxes and mandatory employee social contributions are deducted. In these datasets, the sum of these gross values is equal to total household income (reported in variable “HI”). We subtract taxes and contributions from HI to arrive at household disposable income (reported in variable “DHI”). DHI is often used as the basis of poverty and inequality analysis.

However, in some cases, the original datasets report only net income, that is, values after taxes and mandatory employee social contributions have been deducted.  You can reliably compare DHI as well as DPI across LIS datasets, regardless of whether the dataset is classified by us as a “net” versus a “gross” dataset.

For more useful information, please consult LIS Guidelines.

What are PPPs and deflators? How can I use them with the microdata?
PPPs refer to Purchasing Power Parities, which are often used to adjust exchange rates, to account for cross-national differences in price levels. While exchange rates can be used for comparative research on income, most researchers prefer to use PPP-adjusted exchange rates, because PPP-adjusted incomes hold roughly equal purchasing power measured in international prices. Price deflators render currencies equivalent across years within countries.

The income variables in the LIS and LWS microdata (available through LISSY) are reported in national currencies – as are the mean and median income values in the Key Figures. To compare monetary amounts across countries and over time, researchers have to convert these values into a common currency and a common year’s prices. LIS leaves it up to researchers to choose exchange rates and/or deflators, as they wish, when using the LIS and LWS microdata.

LIS has applied a set of PPPs and deflators to the currencies in the Web Tabulator. We converted all income variables from nominal local currency units to 2005 international dollars. The conversion was done by applying first a national price deflator to the nominal amounts to express them all in terms of year 2005 national prices. Those amounts were then converted to international dollars using PPPs.

The PPPs and national deflators were taken from the OECD and (when not available from OECD) from the World Development Indicators.

Why are the values in the LIS Key Figures different from similar indicators distributed by other organisations, such as the OECD?
There are several reasons that indicators – such as poverty rates, inequality measures, and labour force outcomes – vary across sources. The main reason is that the underlying microdata from which these measures are constructed may be different, which would imply different sampling techniques, imputation techniques, income concepts, and so on. Furthermore, even if using the same microdata, each organization makes its own decisions regarding, for example, defining countable income, equivalising income, weighting, top- and bottom-coding, PPPs, and so on.

At LIS, we make available extensive information about how we constructed our Key Figures, so that you can always understand how we arrived at our indicators.

Managing Jobs and Listings/Output when Using LISSY

What statistical computing packages can I use with LISSY?
SAS, SPSS, and Stata programs all work with LISSY.
LISSY is currently running SAS 9.3 64-bit, SPSS 22 and Stata 12.1.

May I use external files with the LIS databases (e.g., Stata ado files, files with PPPs and deflators, other files with country-level indicators)?

Yes, in many cases. If you wish to use external files with the microdata, send your request, along with the attached file, to usersupport@lisdatacenter.org.Your request will be reviewed and, if judged to meet our security standards, you will receive an email with instructions on how to access your file. Setting this up is a manual process, so it will take at least three business days before the external file could be accessed through LISSY.

I get the error message “wrong header”. How can I avoid this?

This is a common error received by researchers who submit a job request via email for the first time. The easiest way to solve this problem is to submit jobs via the Job Submission Interface (JSI).

However, if you prefer to submit jobs via email:

1) Make sure that the header font is in ASCII plain text; if using an email interface such as Outlook, change the default settings from HTML to plain text;

2) Double-check to make sure that your user ID and password are correct;

3) Follow the specific four-line header of this exact program:

*user = ‘userid’
*password = ‘password’
*package = ‘statistical package used’ [SAS,SPSS,stata]
*project = ‘project accessed’ [LIS or LWS]

Remember that passwords are case sensitive.

What does “set for review” mean, and how can I avoid this?
If you get this message, it usually means that you have included disallowed practices and commands.

We work hard to make sure that the confidentiality of our data is never breached. As a result, some program syntax and commands are disallowed, and their use will trigger security alerts. This includes, for example, commands that display frequencies on continuous variables (e.g., income variables, weights, and identifiers) as well as commands that allow users to print or view individual records.

Avoid program syntax that requests frequencies on continuous variables.
Avoid the following illegal commands entirely:


 print, %sysexec, OPTION errors=


  &print, list

Stata :

 list, set memory, shell, erase, type


What does “listing held for check” mean, and how can I avoid this?
The most common reason for getting this message is that your listing is too long.

If the size of a listing exceeds a given limit for a statistical package, the job submission is also automatically sent to the security area for review. You should avoid sending programs that result in excessively long output.

Use commands to shorten output, such as:


 OPTIONS nosource nonotes

Stata :

nolog, quietly or noisily

Separate your program code into smaller parts and send several shorter job submissions.

As much as possible, limit the number of countries combined in a single run.

I get an error message in my output. Is there a way to debug my program?
Yes. You can debug your program before submitting a job to LISSY, and we recommend doing that, especially if you are not familiar with statistical package syntax. Debugging can be helped by testing your jobs on your home computer, using our downloadable sample files.

Can I receive non-ASCII output/listings from LISSY such as graphs, worksheets, HTML-pages, etc.?
No. LISSY only sends back plain ASCII output/listings from SAS, SPSS, and Stata. We do not allow LISSY to produce graphs of microdata because many of our datasets have been provided on the condition that listing or viewing individual records is prohibited. This restriction applies to plotting the data. In order to graph statistics based on the data, you have to convert the LISSY output into another format, such as an Excel spreadsheet.


I get the error message “Unable to launch the application” when I try to connect to LISSY under Windows 7?
When you get the following error message while launching LISSY under Windows 7, please apply the following procedure:
Unable to launch the application.
Name: Lissy Userinterface
Publisher: LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg
From: http://www.lisdatacenter.org
1. Open the Control Panel
2. Click “Java” (Java control panel)
3. Under the Temporary Internet Files section, click “Settings”
4. Click “Delete Files”
5. Then, check all boxes and click “OK”


I get the error message “LISSY system not responding”?
In case the JSI is not responding / freezing or if you get the window “could not connect to the server” , this means that our remote execution system is temporarily down.

Additional Information

Best Practices using LISSY
Learn more about managing your jobs and listings/output.