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Access Methods for United States Microdata

By Daniel Weinberg, John Abowd, Sandra Rowland, Philip Steel and Laura Zayatz


Beyond the traditional methods of tabulations and public-use microdata samples, statistical agencies have developed four key alternatives for providing non-government researchers with access to confidential microdata to improve statistical modeling. The first, licensing, allows qualified researchers access to confidential microdata at their own facilities, provided certain security requirements are met. The second, statistical data enclaves, offer qualified researchers restricted access to confidential economic and demographic data at specific agency-controlled locations. Third, statistical agencies can offer remote access, through a computer interface, to the confidential data under automated or manual controls. Fourth, synthetic data developed from the original data but retaining the correlations in the original data have the potential for allowing a wide range of analyses.

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