1136.0 - Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2007  
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Contents >> Statistical Collections >> Social >> General Social Survey

General Social Survey


Family and Community Statistics Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 6316


The 2006 General Social Survey, conducted between March and July 2006, brings together a wide range of information about the personal and household characteristics for people aged 18 years or over. This enables analysis of the interrelationships in social circumstances and outcomes, including the exploration of multiple advantage and disadvantage experienced by that individual. The focus is on the relationships between characteristics from different areas, rather than in depth information about a particular field.

Topics include health, housing, education, work, income, financial stress, broad assets and liabilities, information technology, transport, social capital, voluntary work, family and community, recreation and leisure, and crime. Provides an overview through summary tables for different population groups and selected themes. More detailed cross classified tables also cover selected themes.


The GSS was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, except for very remote parts of Australia. Only persons aged 18 years and over were included in the survey.

Only people who were usual residents of private dwellings in Australia were covered by the survey. Private dwellings are houses, flats, home units and any other structures used as private places of residence at the time of the survey. People usually resident in non-private dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels, hospitals and short-stay caravan parks were not included in the survey. Usual residents are those who usually live in a particular dwelling and regard it as their own or main home. Visitors to private dwellings are not included in the interview for that dwelling. However, if they are a usual resident of another dwelling that is in the scope of the survey they have a chance of being selected in the survey or, if not selected, they will be represented by similar persons who are selected in the survey. At 30 June 2006, there were 376,000 people aged 18 years and over living in non-private dwellings throughout Australia. The exclusion of these people (2% of the population) is unlikely to impact on the estimates included in this publication.

The following non-residents were excluded from resident population estimates used to benchmark the survey results, and were not interviewed:

  • diplomatic personnel of overseas governments
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia
  • persons whose usual place of residence was outside Australia.

Reference Period

March to July 2006

Frequency of Collection

It is planned to repeat the survey at regular intervals (currently four-yearly).

Method of Collection

ABS interviewers conducted personal interviews at selected dwellings during the period March to July 2006. Interviews were conducted using a Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) questionnaire. CAI involves the use of a notebook computer to record, store, manipulate and transmit the data collected during interviews.

Much of the detail obtained from the GSS was provided by one person aged 18 years or over, randomly selected from each participating household. The random selection of this person was made once basic information had been obtained about all household members. Some financial and housing items collected in the GSS required the selected person to answer on behalf of other members of the household. In some cases, particularly where household information was not known by the selected person, a spokesperson for the household was nominated to provide household information.


Release Schedule

Results from the 2006 GSS were published in May 2007.


General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 4159.0)

General Social Survey: User Guide (ABS cat. no. 4159.0.55.002), provides detailed information about the survey content, methodology and data interpretation. It also contains the list of GSS data items, survey questions and prompt cards.

Detailed results from the Voluntary Work supplementary topic included in the GSS will be released separately in the publication Voluntary Work, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4441.0).


Australia, States and Territories, capital city/balance of state and remoteness areas.

Data Service

General Social Survey: Basic Confidentialised Unit Record File (ABS cat. no. 4159.0.30.001)
General Social Survey: Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (ABS cat. no. 4159.0.30.002)

Special tabulations of GSS data are available on request, as a charged service.


A full list of the data items from the 2006 GSS, in Excel format, is found under the 'Details' tab of the electronic publication General Social Survey: User Guide (ABS cat. no. 4159.0.55.002).

Marital status
Family composition
Country of Birth
Year of arrival
Main language other than English spoken at home
Proficiency in English

Highest year of school completed
Level of highest non-school qualification
Highest educational attainment
Main field of highest educational attainment
Full-time/part-time current study
Type of educational institution of current study
Reasons did not study although wanted to
Main reason did not study although wanted to
Reasons did not do training although wanted to
Main reason did not do training although wanted to

Historical Data

The 2006 GSS is the second survey in the series, with the first GSS conducted in 2002.

Each cycle of the GSS collects comparable information for the core dimensions to allow for analysis of changes over time. A flexible component is also included to collect additional information on emerging or important topics of social concern. The flexible component of the 2006 GSS included topics relating to social capital, voluntary work and category of visa held by Australian immigrants.

While the scope, survey design, content, data collection and weighting procedures were largely the same in both collections, there were some differences in the flexible component of the GSS. The flexible component of the 2006 GSS included more detailed indicators of family and community involvement (i.e. indicators of social network structure, types, qualities and transactions including those related to voluntary work) which along with closely related items from the 2002 GSS is sometimes referred to as being the 'social capital' component of the survey. The flexible component also included items related to topics of residential mobility, visa category, access to service providers and reasons did not undertake study or training.

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