General Social Survey
NAME OF ORGANISATION
The 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) was the first survey of this type conducted by the ABS. The GSS is intended to be repeated every 4 years, with much of the content unchanged, to enable changes over time to be measured. There will also be a flexible component to enable the inclusion of contemporary and emerging issues in each survey cycle.
The introduction of the GSS is one of the outcomes of the ABS Household Survey Review. In the Review, ABS undertook extensive consultation with key government users at both State and Commonwealth level, and sought input from a wider group of stakeholders. The Review found considerable interest in a general social survey and support from many users. Users are recognising that many social phenomena are inter-related and social policy is becoming less sectoral as a consequence. As a result, surveys which allow inter-relationships between different aspects of people's lives to be explored are important.
The information collected includes details of health and disability, housing, education, labour force, transport, crime, and indicators of family and community involvement. A number of economic items (income and selected assets, liabilities and financial stress indicators), as well as demographic details, are also included. Three supplementary topics were also included in the 2002 GSS, collecting information on the extent of computer and internet access, attendance at cultural and sporting events, and participation in sport or other physical activity.
The key objectives of the GSS are:
The GSS provides a wide range of information about the same individuals, allowing the links between different aspects of peoples' lives to be examined. Little is known as to what extent individuals' relative standing in one area of social concern may be mirrored in other areas, and by including a range of variables and areas of social concern in the one vehicle the GSS makes it possible to measure the extent of multiple social disadvantage across these areas of social concern. Further, the GSS obtains strategic information about the factors that determine outcomes such as health, living standards or social cohesion through the inter-relationships between different aspects of peoples' lives. For example:
The GSS also:
While still relevant to the broad social concerns underlying the GSS, the main purpose of the supplementary topics in the 2002 GSS is to provide specific detailed information to policy makers.
The survey includes all usual residents aged 18 years and over living in private dwellings. Visitors to private dwellings are excluded, as are persons in institutions (such as hospitals and nursing homes) and special dwellings (such as hotels and boarding houses).
The following persons living in Australia, but not usually considered part of the resident population, are excluded from the scope of the survey:
Non-Australians (other than those above) working in Australia; or in Australia as students or settlers, and their dependents, are included in the scope of the survey if they have lived, or intend to live, in Australia for a period of 12 months or more.
The survey is conducted in urban and rural areas only. The exclusion of people living in remote and sparsely settled areas only has a minor impact on aggregate national and State level estimates. For this reason, the survey results are weighted to include persons living in these areas. In the the Northern Territory, however, persons living in remote and sparsely settled areas account for over 20% of the population, and the survey results are not weighted to include persons living in sparsely populated areas.
The GSS will use standard ABS data items and classifications where appropriate. Major classifications to be used include:
Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED);
Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO);
Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC); and
Standard Australian Classification of Languages (ASCL).
Other concepts (summary)
Comments and/or Other Regions
The sample is drawn from urban and rural areas in all States and Territories; remote or sparsely settled areas are excluded. The sample is distributed among States/Territories in a way intended to allow the production of reliable State/Territory estimates.
Subject to data quality considerations, data may be made available for some categories of the Accessibility and Remoteness Index for Australia (ARIA).
Although the 2002 survey was the first GSS, some of the information collected had previously been included in a range of more specific ABS surveys. These include:
Household Expenditure Survey;
Survey of Income and Housing Costs;
Australian Housing Survey;
Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers;
Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology;
National Health Survey;
Voluntary Work Survey;
Crime and Safety Survey;
Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation;
Labour Force Survey;
Survey of Attendance at Selected Culture/Leisure Venues; and
Survey of Sports Attendance.
Data availability comments
Results from the survey were made available in December 2003 in the form of a national level publication. The 2002 GSS Microdata has been available since 30th July 2004.
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