General Social Survey - Time Use (GSS)

Status:
Active
Frequency:
Quinquennial (5 year)
Record number:
4503

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 Time Use.

Detailed information for 1986 (Cycle 2)

Data release - 1989

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.

The data collected provide information to all level of governments when making funding decisions, developing priorities and identifying areas of concern for legislation, new policies and programs. Researchers and other users use this information to inform the general Canadian population about the changing nature of time use in Canada.

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

  • Commuting to work
  • Labour
  • Society and community
  • Time use

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.

Sampling

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

Two random Digit Dialling (RDD) sampling techniques are used. For Newfoundland and Ontario, the Elimination of Non-working Banks method was used. For the other provinces, the Waksberg method was used.

The sample size was 16,390.

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 accuracy

Statistics from the General Social Survey (GSS) databases are estimates based on data collected from a small fraction of the population (roughly one person in 2,000) and are subject to error. The error can be divided into two components: sampling error and non-sampling error.

Sampling error is the difference between the estimate derived from a sample and the result that would have been obtained from a population census using the same data collection procedures. For a sample survey such as the GSS, this error is estimated from the survey data. The measurement of error used is the standard deviation of the estimate. When a sampling error is more than 33 1/3% of the estimate itself, it is considered to be too unreliable to be published. In such a case, the symbol "-- " appears in statistical tables in place of the estimate. When the sampling error is between 16 2/3% and 33 1/3%, the corresponding estimate is accompanied by the symbol " * " in a table. Such estimates should be used with caution. Finally, all estimates with a sampling error of less than 16 2/3% can be used without restriction.


All other types of errors, such as coverage, response, processing, and non-response, are non-sampling errors.

Many of these errors are difficult to identify and quantify.

Coverage errors arise when there are differences between the target population and the surveyed population. Households without telephones represent a part of the target population that was excluded from the surveyed population. To the extent that this excluded population differs from the rest of the target population, the estimates will be biased. Since these exclusions are small, one would expect the biases introduced to be small. However, since there are correlations between a number of questions asked on this survey and the groups excluded, the biases may be more significant than the small size of the groups would suggest.

Individuals residing in institutions were excluded from the surveyed population. The effect of this exclusion is greatest for people aged 65 and over, for whom it approaches 9%.

In a similar way, to the extent that the non-responding households and persons differ from the rest of the sample, the estimates will be biased. The overall response rate for the GSS was approximately 80%. Non-response could occur at several stages in this survey. There were two stages of information collection: at the household level and at the individual level. Non-response at the household level averaged 6%. Non-response also occurs at the level of individual questions. For most questions, the response rate was high and, in tables, the non-responses generally appear under the heading "not stated".

While refusal to answer specific questions was very low, accuracy of recall and ability to answer some questions completely can be expected to affect some of the results presented in the subsequent chapters. Awareness of exact question wording will help the reader interpret the survey results.

Since the survey is cross-sectional, caution is required in making causal inferences about the association between variables. Observed associations may be a reflection of differences between cohorts, period effects, differences between age groups or a combination of these factors.

Data file