General Social Survey - Family (GSS)

Summary of changes

Activity on this program started: 1984

Reference period of change - 2017 (Cycle 31)

The content for this survey has changed through time. Since its first iteration in 1990, it covers much of the same content, allowing for historical comparisons. There are repeated core questions (key demographic concepts), other questions more policy oriented (added or deleted depending on needs), and socio-demographic questions.

In 2017, the main changes involve:
a) redesigning the modules on childcare services, childcare arrangements, child custody and financial support, and programs used after a separation or a divorce;
b)expanding modules on parents and grandparents;
c)removing the module on work history.

Also in 2017, many survey specific socio-demographic questions were replaced by Statistics Canada harmonized content. Harmonized content modules contain standard concepts, definitions, classification and wording for multiple collection modes. This new standardized content is for the most part very similar to the previous concepts used by GSS, but in some cases required adjustments to the traditional derived variables.

In 2017, personal income questions were not asked as part of the survey. Income information was obtained instead through a linkage to tax data for respondents who did not object to this linkage. Linking to tax data diminishes respondent burden and also increases data quality both in terms of accuracy and in terms of response rates.

Reference period of change - 2001 (Cycle 15)

Collection instrument - This cycle covers much the same content as Cycle 10 with some sections revised and expanded. Questions on custody and financial arrangements between the separated/divorced parents have been modified for Cycle 15. An Education History section was developed for this cycle and questions on education from Cycle 10 were included. The Work section was remodeled based on periods of work. Also, a set of questions on mobility was added to the "Other characteristics" section.

Reference period of change - 1995 (Cycle 10)

Collection instrument - Cycle 10 focused on Canadian families. This theme, in conjunction with the theme relating to social support and social networks, was also covered in Cycle 5. More specifically, Cycle 10 collected data on family and marital history (marriage and common-law relationships), joint custody arrangements, child leaving, family origins, fertility intentions, values and attitudes towards certain areas of family life, and work interruptions. In addition to the core content, Cycle 10 included two focus themes: the effects of environmental tobacco smoke, and wartime service, which targeted persons aged 55 and over.

Reference period of change - 1990 (Cycle 5)

In 1990, the General Social Survey - Family was conducted for the first time.

Collection instrument - Core content for Cycle 5 concentrated on the respondent's family and friends, as well as the relationships and interactions with them.

Reference period of change - 1984

The Family History Survey was conducted.

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