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Eurostat's Statistical Treasure Trove
Volume 38, Number 5 - September/October 2014


On the homepage, a search box at the upper right permits basic searches. From the results page, you can then choose the Advanced Search option to expand or narrow your search. Enter, for example, old in the homepage search box. Then, in Advanced Search, you can alter the strategy to old older elderly and select Any to create an OR relationship. You can search one individual collection (Call for tenders and grants, Compact guides and catalogs, Data in focus, Datasets, Eurostat News, Geographical information and Maps, Manuals and guidelines, Metadata, News releases, Pocketbooks, Statistical books, Statistical working papers, and Statistics in Focus) or all of them, but you can’t search several at once. Your other limits are Theme (nine top-level topics), Subtheme, and Publication date range. If you know them, you can also search by Eurostat code or ISBN.

My search, specifying Statistics in Focus, found four documents published since the beginning of 2013. Changing the collection to News releases revealed another four items. The documents included information about the labor market, social conditions, and health among elderly people.

The most valuable contents from a research point of view are found in the database itself. The only challenge is to find out how to get the best value out of the information available. Eurostat has put great effort into helping users navigate through the database. However, this presents some problems, as the thinking behind the navigation is not always the logic of an information professional. Moreover, the database contains so much information that it can be overwhelming no matter how this is presented.


Eurostat makes extensive use of icons. Some of the icons are almost self-evident, but a few of them are more difficult to understand, and some actually change contents a bit depending on which part of the database you are working in. If you hover over the icons, you will always get a pop-up text explaining the icon.

The metadata icon brings you to a page about the data descriptions and provides a lot of information about the data collection and publication.

More data in the data source icon is found on the “Tables by theme” tables. This brings you to the same table but in an editable format. This does not give you the same possibilities of making graphs and maps once you have chosen the data in the data source.

The information icon provides facts about the updates and the number of data points (values) available in the dataset.

Save lets you save a data table in different formats (Excel, CSV, HTML, PC Axis, SPSS, TSV and PDF). The Excel download is very useful, but be aware of ticking the correct boxes before you download the data. If you work from a computer with North American settings, the Excel download may cause some problems due to different thousand and decimal separators (The Eurostat standard is to use 1.234,56 while the U.S. standard is 1,234.56 for monetary values.) There are two ways of solving this. If you work in the Database by Themes, you can actually change this setting. An alternative is to choose the CSV format, which gives you the choice of different separators.

Print means preview and shows you the page as it can be printed in a plain table format. This is formatted to a vertical page and longer time series are cut into more tables.

The Bookmark and email icon gives you the option of not only bookmarking the modified table but also emailing it afterwards. The format differs slightly depending on the tables. (In the predefined tables, you may email it directly; in the edited tables, you have to bookmark the table before you may email it.)

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Anja Chemnitz Thygesen owns ACT, a Danish information research company that specializes in market and company research in the Scandinavian markets, and is part of OneAnswer, a pan-European network of business researchers.


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