Analysis of administrative data

Analysis of administrative data can uncover key insights and trends for the benefit of policymakers and public services.

Administrative data is information created when people interact with public services. Here at NatCen, our researchers often use extracts of administrative data to contribute to the development of high-quality and impactful research.

This page contains information on how this type of data analysis can uncover key insights and trends for the benefit of policymakers and public services, as well as how we ensure personal data is protected. 

Our team of analysts and statisticians are experts in uncovering insights using survey data and administrative data. As well as end-to-end research projects, we provide rapid data analysis and survey insights to see how the public thinks, feels, or acts around specific issues. 

What is administrative data?

Administrative data, also known as administrative records, is information that is collected by governments and other organisations primarily for administrative reasons. This data is gathered as part of routine activities when people interact with public services.  

Administrative data includes information from our big life events; birth certificates, registering a death, and marriage. Our interactions with bodies such as the NHS, schools, and HMRC also generates administrative records. Finally, the national census, which in England and Wales takes place every 10 years, and the electoral register are also administrative data.

Why is administrative data useful?

At NatCen, we are interested in the administrative data that government collects as it helps plug information gaps that data collected for research or statistical purposes doesn’t cover.

Administrative data from sources is very helpful to researchers, as it helps generate a far more detailed picture of life in the UK.

The main benefit of administrative data to researchers is the extensive coverage. When different data sources are linked up, it provides an unmatched opportunity to understand what life in the UK is like for different groups whose story isn’t easily captured by survey data, such as people of a specific ethnicity or people that have been in contact with the criminal justice system. When survey participants give their consent to link their responses to administrative data, such as their school attainment, we are also able to link up people’s views and experiences with their outcomes. This can, for example, help enable more tailored and evidence-informed policy. 

These findings are beneficial for policy-makers, researchers, and public services involved in that specific sector. 

Our analysts have full accredited researcher status under the Digital Economy Act 2017, which enables us to access a wealth of unpublished data for research projects for the public good. 

Please contact us to find out more: