Swedish population databases at easier access for researchers

Swedish researchers will have their say in how population information is gathered and used. The Swedish Research Council thereby hopes that Sweden will be internationally leading in microdata research.
"International environments envy our Nordic data sources. We have unique opportunities to shed light at areas that regard society, ecomony and health," says Juni Palmgren, chair of the e-science group in the committee of research infrastructure at the Swedish Research Council.

According to Palmgren the databases of Statistics Sweden and the National board of Health and Welfare are goldmines to the researchers. However, many researchers experience that it is difficult to obtain data from the registers, and they lack the infrastructure and knowledge they need to use them effectively.

"The registers are not made for research. They are information and planning instruments for building society and making political desicions," Palmgren explains.

One condition for realising the project is that the anonymity of the individuals is guaranteed. Great effort will therefore be made to de-identify the persons in the databases.

The Swedish Research Council now lauches a two-step project: First the accessibility of the information will be improved, and then funding for microdata research will be distributed. The initiators hope to attract young, high-quality researchers. "We hope to become world leading. If not, the initiative is a failure," says Juni Palmgren.
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