Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, or CBS) releases its publishable
1. Broad description
information in its output database StatLine on the Internet, www.cbs.nl/en/statline. Usually, this
information takes the form of multidimensional tables, or data cubes. These tabulations are safe
from the perspective of statistical confidentiality protection. The user selects and processes his
own views on these data cubes. Occasionally, statistical work is commissioned
and paid for by third parties, resulting in data cubes.
2. Why is it good practice?
Data cubes are the main vehicle for releasing all statistical information. Statistical
confidentiality protection is applied in a routine fashion. Moreover, data cubes can be easily
linked and compared on a meso level. Conversely, a lack of coherence is easily discovered. Adding
data cubes to the StatLine database ensures that statistical information is produced
and published to serve the public at large.
3. Target audience
Data cubes are primarily made and used to serve the public at large. Even if they are produced
and paid for by a third party, as a matter of policy the resulting data cubes are available for all.
4. Detailed description
Statistics Netherlands has published several papers on the art of ‘cubism’.
5. Supporting legislation
Three sections of the Statistics Netherlands Act (www.cbs.nl/en-GB/menu/organisatie/
statistics-netherlans-act.htm) are relevant, pertaining to its general public task, its
commissioned work, and the precondition of statistical confidentiality.
Section 3 states that it is the legal task of Statistics Netherlands “to carry out statistical
research for the government for practice, policy and research purposes and to publish the
statistics compiled on the basis of such research”.
According to section 5, “CBS may occasionally carry out statistical work for third parties.”
Section 37 reads:
“1. The data received by the director general in connection with the performance of his duties
to implement this act shall be used solely for statistical purposes.
2. The data referred to in the first subsection shall not be provided to any persons other
than those charged with carrying out the duties of
3. The data referred to in the first subsection shall only be published in such a way that no
recognisable data can be derived from them about an individual person, household, company or
institution, unless, in the case of data relating to a company or institution, there
are good reasons to assume that the company or institution concerned
will not have any objections to the publication.”
Statistics Netherlands is in full control as far as statistical disclosure protection is concerned.
The user can rely on the professional quality of the statistical information. It is rewarding for
staff to produce information that is in demand. The data cubes make it ever easier to relate
various bits of statistical information to each other. Experiences with commissioned work may be
fed back into the standard statistical programme as an indication of user preferences.
By definition data cubes are less informative and less flexible than microdata (unit level
records) for researchers. As commissioned work has to be paid for, data cubes may appear to
be expensive for the commissioning party.
05 Feb 2015