1136.0 - Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2004  
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Contents >> Related ABS Publications >> General Social Survey

General Social Survey


Assistant Director
Living Conditions Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 5508
Facsimile (02) 6252 7784


This survey provides information on a range of social dimensions from individuals aged 18 years or over to enable analysis of the interrelationships in social circumstances and outcomes. The wide range of information collected enables information to be linked in ways not previously available.

The dimensions and topics in the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) include demographic characteristics, family and community, health, work, income ,financial stress, assets and liabilities, housing, crime, transport, education, information technology, attendance at selected culture, leisure and sport venues and participation in sport or recreational activities.


Persons aged 18 years or over were included in the survey. This included usual residents of private dwellings only. The following groups were excluded:

  • Persons usually resident in non-private dwellings
  • Visitors to private dwellings
  • 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 were excluded from the survey


Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003, General Social Survey: Summary of Results, Australia, 2002, (cat. no. 4159.0), ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004, 2002 General Social Survey: Data Reference Package, (cat. no. 4159.0.55.001), ABS, Canberra, available electronically via ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.

Detailed results from the supplementary topics included in the 2002 GSS (Household Use of Information Technology, Attendance at Selected Culture/Leisure Venues, Sports Attendance; and Participation in Sport and Physical Activities) have been released separately in the following publications:
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003, Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2001-02, cat. no. 8146.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003, Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2002, cat. no. 4114.0, ABS Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003, Sports Attendance, Australia, 2002, cat. no. 4174.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003, Participation in Sport and Physical Activities, Australia, 2002, cat. no. 4177.0, ABS, Canberra.

Data Service

A specialised data service is available to provide unpublished tables on request. Users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the 2002 survey data will be able to access confidentialised unit record files (CURFs) which will be available in 2004. Further information is available on the ABS website:

List of available CURFs
List of CURFs expected to be released

Release Schedule

Results from the 2002 GSS were published in December 2003.


The following data items are available from the 2002 GSS. More detailed information relating to these are available on the ABS website:

Data reference package

The survey provides some data on education which may useful to explore in relation to other social dimensions collected in the survey. The following education data items are available:
  • Highest year of school completed;
  • Level of highest non-school qualification;
  • Highest educational attainment;
  • Main field of highest educational attainment;
  • Full-time/part-time study; and
  • Type of educational institution.

The following topics were included in the 2002 GSS as supplementary topics:


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


Trained ABS interviewers conducted personal interviews at selected dwellings using a Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) questionnaire. Much of the detail obtained from the 2002 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 2002 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.

The initial sample for the survey consisted of approximately 19,500 dwellings. This number was reduced to approximately 17,000 dwellings due to the loss of households which had no residents in scope for the survey and where dwellings proved to be vacant, under construction or derelict. Of the eligible dwellings, 91% fully responded (or adequately) which yielded a total sample from the survey of just over 15,500 dwellings.


Reference Period

The 2002 GSS was conducted over a five month period from March to July 2002.

Frequency of Collection

It has been proposed for the GSS to be conducted every four years as a Special Social Survey. The next GSS is planned for 2006.

Historical Data

2002 was the first time the GSS was conducted. Some of the information collected in the 2002 GSS, has been collected previously in a range of more specific ABS surveys. These include:



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