The European Social Survey
January 19, 2011
Professor Jaak Billiet introduced the European Social Survey (ESS). It is a Rolls-Royce survey that has been running since 2002. It now contains 26 different countries and receives major funding from the EU. Surveys are conducted every two years.
ESS measures changes in attitudes and values over time and between countries. There is a core with fixed modules and also rotation modules. There is a formal process to apply for rotation modules. Two modules are chosen for each survey, with 50 questions in each. Getting a module is highly competitive.
Data quality – the survey aims for a 70 percent response rate. Poland and Greece obtain this level and the aim is to bring up other countries to this level. There are large differences between countries. Germany is the lowest, at just over 40% response. All samples are random. There should be less than 3% non-response, but this varies. For most countries the sample size is over 2,000.
A lot of work is spent on reducing non-response. Data collection is face-to-face, with no substitutions. Interviewers make at least four calls on each household. There is much country variation in the extent to which respondents increase with each successive attempt.
It is very important to record all information about non-respondents, date, neighbourhood characteristics, reason for refusal, estimated age, gender etc.
Documentation of ESS is complete and very high quality. Data is available one year after collection and is free.
After this introduction to the ESS, Jaak continued to discuss the difficulty of equivalence.
For example, has the concept of religiosity the same meaning across all countries? Are correlations between religiosity and other variables equivalent across all countries. Items do not function in the same way in all cultural groups; in particular questions may work differently for different educational groups.
All overheads are on the methods@Manchester web-site. Go to http://www.methods.manchester.ac.uk/events/2011-01-19-2/index.shtml
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