Case Study: SA BLADE pilot


This project piloted the integration of data from the Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) with datasets from the Government of South Australia (SA), in order to assess the feasibility of creating an evidence base to better understand overall employment and industry performance in SA and inform economic policy development.

It was the first time that a jurisdiction’s business data was brought together with Commonwealth business data via the BLADE. The pilot project was a feasibility study of national significance and a pathfinder for other state or territory government linkage projects that may follow.

The integrated dataset was a valuable information asset that expanded the evidence base available to inform SA Government’s economic development policy. It was used to address a number of research purposes:

    • To replicate results from a research paper that looked at the impact of participation in the SA Innovation and Investment Funds (IIFs) on firm performance – confirming the finding of a modest but positive treatment effect on grant recipients
    • To enrich the business location information available for analysis by identifying the operations of businesses that employ workers in SA – using data from the state’s work injury insurance scheme about workplace locations and worker remuneration
    • To examine the employment effects of changes in SA’s payroll tax regime – with analysis findings consistent with estimates from a Tax and Transfer Policy Institute report prepared for the Commonwealth Grants Commission
    • To map clusters of related tradeable industries at a regional level – demonstrating the usefulness of the integrated dataset for grouping industries based on their tendency to co-locate within specific geographic boundaries
    • To assess the impact of mining projects on rural economies within the state – finding increases in average turnover, wages, employment and other indicators related to businesses in the Strathalbyn region
    • To evaluate the effectiveness of SA Government grants designed to encourage greater export and innovation activity in supporting growth as part of a broader analysis of factors contributing to firms achieving high growth status – finding that recipients achieved a higher incidence of high growth in general

The benefits that these insights provide will continue to be realised beyond the pilot phase. The SA Government is pursuing a second stage of this data sharing and integration project with the ABS. It will leverage the SA Business Research Environment and include more recent BLADE as well as longitudinal SA administrative data to inform policy relevant research that answers questions related to sectoral growth within the state.

The pilot project underwent a rigorous assessment and approval process, managed by the ABS, and was overseen by a Steering Group of senior officers from the SA Government, the ABS and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. Authorised researchers were granted access to de-identified microdata for policy analysis, research and statistical purposes.


See “Industry and Employment Dynamics in South Australia” and “SA Business Longitudinal Data Integration Project”.