4159.0 - General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/09/2011   
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APPENDIX 1 DATA COMPARABILITY WITH OTHER ABS SOURCES


DATA COMPARABILITY WITH OTHER ABS SOURCES

1 The GSS collects data across a range of topics, many of which have been included in other ABS surveys. Where possible question modules from existing surveys have been used in the GSS collections. This practice ensures that statistics derived from the GSS are comparable with statistics from other ABS surveys. However, the breadth of topics included in the GSS does mean that, to keep the reporting load on survey respondents relatively low, it is not always possible to adopt the full question modules that are used in other surveys. In these situations, the GSS uses standard ABS 'short' question modules. For example, personal income was collected via 11 questions in the 2010 GSS, while the 2009-10 Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) used more than 40 questions to collect personal income data. The short question modules have been designed to maximise comparability with the full question modules and their use also ensures comparability with other surveys where the short modules have been used. However, in some cases the there is no generally used short question module, and topics in GSS have used a shortened version which will have resulted in differences in the definition or scope of data items when compared to statistics derived from the full module. Users should refer to the Glossary of this publication for the definitions of GSS items and to the General Social Survey: User Guide (cat. no. 4159.0.55.002) for the survey questions.

2 There are other reasons why results from the GSS may differ from other ABS surveys collecting information on the same topic, even where the questions used are the same. The GSS is a sample survey and its results are subject to sampling error. GSS results may therefore differ from other sample surveys, which are also subject to sampling error. Users should take account of the relative standard errors (RSEs) on GSS estimates and those of other survey estimates where comparisons are made.

3 Differences in GSS estimates, when compared with the estimates of other surveys, may also result from:

  • differences in scope and/or coverage;
  • different reference periods reflecting seasonal variations;
  • non-seasonal events that may have impacted on one period but not another; or
  • because of underlying trends in the phenomena being measured.

4 The GSS 2010 also used a different sampling methodology to that used in most other ABS sample surveys in order to obtain better estimates of people experiencing multiple social disadvantage (see Explanatory Notes for more information). The change in sampling methodology resulted in the selection of more geographic areas expected to have higher concentrations of people experiencing disadvantage than would have been the case with simple population proportional representation in the sample. The weights used to generate population level estimates from the survey will generally have compensated for this change in methodology and largely be reflected in slightly higher RSEs for some estimates at the national level.

5 Differences in statistics from different surveys can occur as a result of using different collection methodologies. This is often evident in comparisons of similar data items reported from different ABS collections where, after taking account of definition and scope differences and sampling error, residual differences remain. These differences often have to do with: the mode of the collection, such as whether data are collected by an interviewer or self enumerated by the respondent; whether the answers to questions are provided by the person to whom the information relates or are from a proxy respondent answering on behalf of someone else; and the level of experience of interviewers undertaking the data collection. Differences may also result from the context in which questions are asked, i.e. where in the flow of the interview that particular questions are asked and the nature of questions that are asked beforehand. Because of the nature of such differences between statistical collections, the impacts on data are difficult to quantify. As a result, every effort is made to minimise such differences.

6 The following table, Comparison of Data from GSS and Other ABS Sources, presents comparisons between a number of key GSS data items and similar data items from other ABS sources, and for most items the GSS data are broadly consistent with other ABS sources. However, there are some notable differences which are noted below.


HEALTH

7 The primary collections of general population health data conducted by the ABS are the Australian Health Survey, formerly the National Health Survey (for more detail see National Health Survey: Summary of Results (Cat No 4364.0)) and the Patient Experience Survey (see Health Services: Patient Experiences in Australia, 2009(cat. no. 4839.0.55.001)). The National Health Survey has the same scope and general collection methodology as the GSS, and the results of the self-report health status question are similar.

8 In comparison to the Patient Experience Survey, the GSS shows a greater proportion of people delayed seeking medical attention because of cost. This difference is mainly due to GSS asking respondents whether they have 'ever' delayed seeing a GP or other health professional because of cost, while the Patient Experience Survey asks about delays 'In the last 12 months'. Other differences in method (e.g., the Patient Experience Survey is collected via a telephone interview rather than in a face-to-face interview as for GSS) could also lead to some minor differences. Similarly, the GSS asks respondents whether they have 'ever' delayed buying a prescribed medication because of the cost rather than whether they have delayed such a purchase in 'the last 12 months'.


DISABILITY

9 Although both the Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers (SDAC) and GSS collect information about disability, the SDAC uses 149 questions to gather the information used to identify types of disability and the underlying conditions causing disability, compared to the 10 questions standard short module used in the GSS. The scope of the SDAC is also different in that the SDAC collects information from people living in special dwellings in addition to those in private dwellings. These differences are likely to account for most of the differences in estimates from these sources.

10 Other ABS surveys, such as the National Health Survey, use the standard 'short' module of questions as used in the GSS to collect information about disability. The results from these two sources using the short disability module are similar. For a more detailed discussion of the range of disability statistics produced by the ABS, see ABS Sources of Disability 2003-2008 cat no. 4431.0.55.002.


LABOUR FORCE

11 The primary source for labour force statistics produced by the ABS is the Labour Force Survey (LFS) (Labour Force, Australia (Cat. No. 6202.0). GSS includes persons aged 18 years or over, living in private dwellings across Australia but excluding persons living in very remote areas. The LFS includes persons living in both private dwellings and non-private dwellings (institutions, hotels, etc.) in all areas of Australia. The data shown in the comparison table below have been adjusted to align the age groups, time period and scope of the two surveys. The results of the surveys were very similar.


EDUCATION

12 Both the GSS and the Survey of Education and Training (SET) include only persons living in private dwellings across Australia and exclude persons living in very remote areas. Within those geographic and dwelling type scope restrictions, both surveys include all persons aged 18 to 64 years. However, while the GSS also includes all persons aged 65 years and over, the SET only includes persons aged 65 to 74 years who were in, or were marginally attached, to the labour force, and excludes all persons aged 75 years or over. Adjustments were made to align the age groups to include only persons aged 18 - 64 years for both the SET and GSS data.


FEELINGS OF SAFETY AND CRIME VICTIMISATION

13 The GSS estimates for people who reported feeling safe or very safe at home alone either during the day or after dark are much higher than as recorded in the 2008-09 ABS Crime Victimisation Survey (CVS). This difference results from screener questions in the CVS that first asks people if they are ever alone. In the CVS 10% of people say they have never been alone during the day at home in the past 12 months, and 17% say they are never alone at home after dark in the past 12 months. The CVS does not ask these people about how safe they feel in such circumstances. It is highly unlikely that such large numbers of people are never alone at home, and in the GSS the much higher responses to feeling safe are likely to be people who in the CVS respond to never being alone - it is likely that when they are alone it does not make them feel unsafe and they respond accordingly when not screened out of the module. The GSS only recorded people as 'never being at home alone after dark' where the respondent gave this as an unprompted response to how safe they felt in such circumstances (0.5% during the day and 1.3% after dark). For more information on the Crime Victimisation survey see Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2008-2009 (cat. no. 4530.0).

14 The GSS records much higher rates of being victimised by physical or threatened violence in the past 12 months (10.3%) than does the CVS (5.5%). The rates of such victimisation in the GSS are likely to include indistinguishable sexual violence. Sexual violence is significantly under-reported when explicitly collected in the CVS telephone survey, and has been excluded from the CVS component of the comparison in the table below. The measure derived from the GSS is closer to level of violence measured in the ABS 2006 Personal Safety Survey.


SPORTS PARTICIPATION AND SPECTATOR ATTENDANCE

15 In comparison to the 2009-10 Sports Participation survey the GSS recorded higher levels of sports participation. Part of the explanation for this is likely to be that GSS asked respondents to include participation in sports whether as a participant or in some other role such as a coach, referee or official while the related Sports Participation survey question did not specifically mention differing types of participation. So it is possible that people who only participated as a coach, referee or official may have excluded themselves. However, other questions in the Sports Participation and other similar surveys suggests that the proportion of people who only participate in sports as a coach, referee or official is around 3-4%, suggesting that this does not completely explain the difference between the two data sources.

16 Similarly the GSS reported an attendance rate of fourteen percentage points higher for people who reported having attended a sporting event in the last 12 months than the Sports Participation survey. Part of the reason for this difference is likely to be that the question in the Sports Participation survey asks respondents to 'exclude school and junior competitions' while the GSS does not. Apart from the differences in the two question sets, the two surveys had different collection methods (face to face for GSS and telephone for Sports Participation), timing differences (Sports Participation was collected across 12 months from July 2009) and were asked in different contexts. It has not been possible to determine the extent to which these differences in methodologies may have contributed to the different results.

A1.1 COMPARISON OF DATA ITEMS FROM GSS AND OTHER ABS SOURCES(a)

Source of comparable statistics
2010 GSS
Other ABS source/Data Item
%
%

NATIONAL HEALTH SURVEY, 2007-08
Self assessed health status
Excellent/very good
55.0
52.6
Good
29.4
30.5
Fair/poor
15.6
16.9
Disability or long term health condition status(b)
Profound or severe core activity limitation
4.7
4.3
Moderate core activity limitation
5.4
5.8
Mild core activity limitation
1.6
1.8
Has a schooling/employment restriction
7.4
4.9
Has no specific restriction
22.6
23.5
No disability and no long term health condition
58.3
59.7
PATIENT EXPERIENCE SURVEY, 2009
Delayed seeing a doctor because of cost
Delayed seeing a doctor because of cost
8.3
14.4
Did not delay seeing a doctor because of cost
91.7
85.5
Delayed buying prescribed medicines because of cost
Delayed buying prescribed medicines because of cost
9.1
11.2
Did not delay buying prescribed medicines because of cost
90.9
88.6
SURVEY OF DISABILITY, AGEING AND CARERS, 2009
Whether has disability or long term health condition(c)
Has disability or long term health condition
46.6
40.3
Has no disability or long term health condition
53.4
59.7
LABOUR FORCE SURVEY, AUGUST TO NOVEMBER 2010
Labour force status(c)
Employed
65.3
64.7
Unemployed
3.0
3.0
Not in labour force
31.7
32.3
EDUCATION AND TRAINING EXPERIENCE, 2009(d)
Level of highest educational attainment
Postgraduate degree
4.3
4.7
Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate
4.0
2.5
Bachelor Degree
15.0
18.5
Advanced Diploma/Diploma
11.0
11.0
Certificates III/IV
18.6
19.6
Certificates I/II
1.1
1.0
Certificate not further defined
0.1
0.1
Year 12
18.2
18.5
Year 11
6.1
5.4
Year 10 or below
20.3
17.2
Level not determined
1.1
1.5
Main field of highest educational attainment
Natural and physical sciences
1.8
1.9
Information technology
1.8
2.4
Engineering and related technologies
9.3
10.5
Architecture and building
3.1
3.4
Agriculture, environment and related studies
1.5
1.4
Health
5.4
6.0
Education
4.7
4.2
Management and commerce
13.5
14.1
Society and culture
7.6
7.8
Creative arts
2.7
2.3
Food, hospitality and personal services
2.9
3.2
Mixed field programs
44.6
41.1
Field not determined
0.9
1.5
Highest year of school completed
Year 12
54.7
59.1
Year 11
11.3
10.3
Year 10
23.3
22.0
Year 9
5.9
5.2
Year 8 or below
4.5
3.2
Never attended school
0.2
0.2
Full-time/part-time study
Full-time study
7.4
7.8
Part-time study
7.3
8.9
Not studying
85.3
83.4
HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE SURVEY, 2009-10
Ability to raise $2000 in an emergency
Could raise $2000 within a week
86.0
84.7
Could not raise $2000 within a week
14.0
13.2
Number of bedrooms
Bedsitter/One bedroom
3.8
3.8
Two bedrooms
18.0
19.1
Three bedrooms
46.0
46.1
Four bedrooms
26.9
25.1
Five or more bedrooms
5.2
5.9
Dwelling structure
Separate house
78.9
80.2
Single storey semi-detached, row or terrace house or townhouse
5.5
5.4
Two or more storey semi-detached, row or terrace house or townhouse
4.5
4.5
Flat or apartment in a 1 or 2 storey block
5.3
4.0
Flat or apartment in a 3 storey block
3.1
3.5
Flat or apartment in a 4 or more storey block
2.3
2.2
Flat attached to a house
*0.2
0.1
Other dwelling: Caravan, cabin, houseboat
*0.1
0.0
Other dwelling: Improvised home, tent, sleepers out
**0.1
0.0
House or flat attached to shop or office
**0.1
0.0
SURVEY OF INCOME AND HOUSING, 2009-10
Tenure type
Owner without a mortgage
32.7
32.3
Owner with a mortgage
36.4
38.9
Renter
28.3
27.0
Other tenure types
2.5
1.9
Landlord type(e)
Not applicable
71.7
73.0
Private landlord
23.5
21.9
State housing authority
3.8
3.4
Other landlord type
1.1
1.7
Total renters
28.3
27.0
CRIME VICTIMISATION, 2008-09
Feelings of safety at home alone during day(b)
Safe or very safe
85.2
94.2
Neither safe nor unsafe
3.2
3.3
Unsafe or very unsafe
2.2
2.0
Never home alone during the day
9.5
0.5
Feelings of safety at home alone after dark(b)
Safe or very safe
71.6
85.3
Neither safe nor unsafe
7.1
6.9
Unsafe or very unsafe
4.5
6.6
Never home alone after dark
16.8
1.3
CRIME VICTIMISATION, 2009-10
Victim of physical or threatened violence in last 12 months(b)
Victim of physical or threatened violence
5.5
10.3
Not a victim of physical or threatened violence
94.5
89.7
HOUSEHOLD USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, 2008-09
Frequency of Internet access at home in last 12 months(b)(f)
Everyday
58.0
63.2
At least weekly
36.0
30.5
At least monthly
6.0
4.5
At least yearly
1.0
1.8
ATTENDANCE AT SELECTED CULTURAL VENUES AND EVENTS, 2009-10
Whether has attended any selected cultural venues or events in last 12 months
Has attended selected culture and leisure activities in last 12 months
85.3
85.4
Has not attended any selected culture and leisure activities in last 12 months
14.7
14.6
PARTICIPATION IN SPORT AND PHYSICAL RECREATION, 2009-10
Whether has participated in sport or recreational physical activity in last 12 months
Participated in sport or recreational physical activity
62.8
74.2
Did not participate in sport or recreational physical activity
37.2
25.8
SPECTATOR ATTENDANCE AT SPORTING EVENTS, 2009-10
Whether has attended any sporting events in last 12 months
Has attended sporting events
42.4
56.2
Has not attended any sporting events
57.6
43.8

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
** estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use
(a) Percentages shown relate to the total population of persons aged 18 years or over unless otherwise indicated.
(b) GSS data has been collapsed to align with data from other ABS source.
(c) Data from other source has been restricted to persons living in private dwellings to align with GSS data.
(d) Both GSS and SET data have been restricted to persons aged 18 - 64 years.
(e) Multiple response categories.
(f) Percentages shown relate to the population of persons who had access and used Internet in last 12 months.