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Chris Lawton

This chapter reflects on the effective use of secondary data sources to investigate the quality of work. Case studies of policy-orientated research illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of some of the secondary data available in the UK that pertain to the structure of employment, population and business demographics, income and earnings, and exclusion from the labour market. The case studies introduce the reader to the role of the Office for National Statistics and the principles affecting the collection, dissemination and interpretation of sample surveys and management information, in order to demonstrate that relatively simple descriptive analysis, if underpinned by a deep understanding of the data sources, can lead to observations that are of great value to decision makers.