Survey of Self-employment (SSE)

Detailed information for 2000




One Time

Record number:


The survey was conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). It collected data on the socio-demographic characteristics of the self-employed, as well as the hours they work, previous work experience, participation in dental, health and disability plans, income security, and their attitudes towards self-employment.

Data release - January 29, 2002


The primary objective of the survey is to provide a profile of those who are self-employed in their main job. Specific issues covered include:

- motivation behind becoming self-employed, i.e. "recession or structural push" (self-employment as a result of poor chances of finding suitable paid-employment) versus "entrepreneurial pull" (self-employment as a result of preference for "being own boss");

- differences in the socio-economic characteristics of those who were pushed and those who were pulled;

- reasons for growth of own account self-employment, in particular changing employment relationships;

- extent and sources of benefit coverage;

- incidence of formal training;

- barriers to training;

- informal training as an alternative to formal training;

- respondents' perceptions of financial stability;

- mechanisms for dealing with personal financial difficulties;

- interest in having an insurance program providing benefits in the event poor business conditions cause personal financial problems; and

- membership in professional, occupational or trade associations.

Collection period: The collection period was extended by one week beyond the regular LFS interview week of April 16 to 22, 2000.


  • Employment and unemployment
  • Labour

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Survey of Self-employment (SSE) was administered in April 2000 to a sub-sample of the dwellings in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample, and therefore its sample design is closely tied to that of the LFS.

The LFS is a monthly household survey whose sample of individuals is representative of the civilian, non-institutionalized population 15 years of age or older in Canada's ten provinces. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are residents of the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories, persons living on Indian Reserves, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. These groups together represent an exclusion of approximately 2% of the population aged 15 or over.

The Survey of Self-employment used five of the six rotation groups in the April 2000 LFS sample. For the Survey of Self-employment, the coverage of the LFS was modified to include only the eligible members of the household. To qualify for the supplement one had to be aged 15 to 69 and to be self-employed in the main job during the reference week in April 2000. Full-time students and those who, on average, work fewer than 11 hours per week were excluded.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was extensively tested using focus groups.


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

The Survey of Self-employment was conducted on a sub-sample of the April 2000 Labour Force Survey. The LFS sample is based upon a stratified, multi-stage design employing probability sampling at all stages of the design. In total, 6,623 individuals were eligible for the SSE.

The SSE sample included individuals who met the SSE criteria at the time of their April LFS interview. Those who did not respond to the LFS and those for whom there was no information about the number of hours they work or their school enrollment were not to be interviewed.

The critical factor for the quality of the SSE sample was the ability of the LFS to identify correctly all respondents who were self-employed in the reference week (whether at work that week or not). As the LFS interviews are conducted both non-proxy and proxy, the SSE interviews (all non-proxy) had to verify the self-employed status of those respondents for whom the LFS information was obtained from a household member. Of the 1,480 respondents asked to confirm their status, only 24 did not consider themselves self-employed in the reference week and were excluded from the survey.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Responses to survey questions are captured directly by the interviewer at the time of the interview using a computerized questionnaire.

Upon completion of the Labour Force Survey interview, the interviewer asked to speak to the person(s) eligible for the Survey of Self-employment. If this person was not available, the interviewer arranged for a convenient time to phone back. Proxy response was not allowed, hence the collection period was extended by one week to allow the interviewers time to contact the individuals eligible for the supplement.

During the data processing of the SSE, it became evident that as a result of interviewers' error 28% of eligible respondents were not asked the Work Arrangements block of questions that applied to them (those questions were not intended for farmers and fishermen). In December 2000, respondents who missed this block were contacted and 90% of them answered the missing questions. Those who did not respond have the "not stated" code in place of missing answers.

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

Error detection

The survey responses were entered during the computer-assisted interviewing. The data capture program automatically followed the flow of the questionnaire and allowed for checking if the codes entered were within a valid range.


This methodology does not apply.


The principles behind the calculation of the weights for the SSE are identical to those for the LFS. However, further adjustments are made to the LFS weights in order to derive a final weight for the individual respondent records on the SSE microdata.

1) An adjustment to account for the use of only five of the six LFS rotation groups for the SSE.
2) An adjustment to account for the additional non response to the supplementary survey i.e., non response to the SSE for individuals who did respond to the LFS and were eligible to receive the SSE.
3) An adjustment to calibrate the weights to province age sex totals for the self-employed population, after the above adjustments are made.

In all provinces except those in the Atlantic region, there were eight sex-age groups - males and females split into age groups 15-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55+. In the Atlantic provinces, the two oldest age groups were combined into one (45+) for both males and females, resulting in only six groupings.

Quality evaluation

Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non sampling errors in the survey. Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data. Interviewers received a detailed SSE manual and a training workbook with practice cases. Senior interviewers were available to answer interviewers' questions.

These measures include extensive training of interviewers with respect to the survey procedures and computer-assisted interviewing (CAI) application, observation of interviewers to detect problems of questionnaire design or misunderstanding of instructions and testing of the CAI application to ensure that range checks, edits and question flow were all programmed correctly.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. 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.

It should be noted that the "Public Use" microdata files differ in a number of important respects from the survey "master" files held by Statistics Canada. These differences are the result of actions taken to protect the anonymity of individual survey respondents. Confidentiality is ensured by suppressing and collapsing variables that may be used to identify individuals.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

The response rate for the SSE, conducted in April 2000 was 60.6%.

Please refer to the User Guide for detailed information.


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