General Social Survey - Family (GSS)

Status:
Active
Frequency:
Quinquennial (5 year)
Record number:
4501

The two primary objectives of the General Social Survey (GSS) are: to gather data on social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well being of Canadians over time; and to provide information on specific social policy issues of current or emerging interest.

This survey monitors the changes in the structure of families with respect to marriages, common-law unions, children and fertility intentions.

Detailed information for 2001 (Cycle 15)

Data release - July 11, 2002

Description

The two primary objectives of the General Social Survey (GSS) are: to gather data on social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well being of Canadians over time; and to provide information on specific social policy issues of current or emerging interest.

This survey monitors changes in Canadian families. It collects information on: conjugal and parental history (chronology of marriages, common-law unions and children), family origins, children's home leaving, fertility intentions as well as work history and other socioeconomic characteristics.

The information collected will impact program and policy areas such as parental benefits, early learning and child-care strategies, affordable housing, child custody and spousal support programs.

Statistical activity

This record is part of the General Social Survey (GSS) program. The GSS, originating in 1985, conducts telephone surveys. Each survey contains a core topic, focus or exploratory questions and a standard set of socio-demographic questions used for classification. More recent cycles have also included some qualitative questions, which explore opinions and perceptions.

Until 1998, the target sample of respondents was approximately 10,000 persons. This was increased in 1999 to 25,000. With a sample of respondents of 25,000, results are available at both the national and provincial levels and possibly for some special population groups such as disabled persons and seniors.

Subjects

  • Families, households and housing
  • Family history
  • Family types
  • Household characteristics
  • Society and community

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population includes all persons 15 years of age and older in Canada, excluding:
1. Residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut
2. Full-time residents of institutions.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed based on qualitative testing (focus groups), a pilot test and interviewer debriefing.

Sampling

This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: February 2001 to December 2001

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data collection is conducted by Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) methods.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Error detection was done through edits programmed into the CATI system.

The CATI data capture program allowed a valid range of codes for each question and built-in edits, and automatically followed the flow of the questionnaire.

All survey records were subjected to computer edits throughout the course of the interview. The CATI system principally edited flow of the questionnaire and identified out of range values. As a result, such problems could be immediately resolved with the respondent. If the interviewer was unable to correctly resolve the detected errors, it was possible for the interviewer to bypass the edit and forward the data to head office for resolution. All interviewer comments were reviewed and taken into account in head office editing.

Head office edits performed the same checks as the CATI system as well as more detailed edits.

Imputation

The flow editing carried out by head office followed a 'top down' strategy, in that whether or not a given question was considered "on path" was based on the response codes to the previous questions. If the response codes to the previous questions indicated that the current question was "on path", the responses, if any, to the current question were retained, though "don't know" was recoded as 8 (98 or 998, etc.) and refusals were recoded as "Not Stated", i.e. 9 (99 or 999, etc.). If, however, a response was missing to the current question, it was coded as "Not Stated", i.e. 9 (99 or 999, etc.). If the response codes to the previous questions indicated that the current question was "off path" because the respondent was clearly identified as belonging to a sub-population for which the current question was inappropriate or not of interest, the current question was coded as "Not Applicable", i.e. 7 (97 or 997, etc.).

Due to the nature of the survey, imputation was not appropriate for most items so missing data were coded as 'Not Stated'.

However, non-response was not permitted for those items required for weighting. Values were imputed in the rare cases where either of the following was missing: sex or number of residential telephone.

Quality evaluation

Quality assurance measures were implemented at every collection and processing steps. Measures such as recruitment of qualified interviewers, training provided to interviewers for specific survey concepts and procedures, observations of interviews to correct questionnaire design problems and instruction misinterpretations, procedures to ensure that data captures are minimized and edit quality checks to verify the processing logics. Data are verified to ensure internal consistency and they are also compared to previous survey results to ensure historical continuity.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Data file