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1 Introduction to the Survey

1.1 Introduction

The Scottish Household Survey is:

  • a face-to-face survey of a sample of people in private residences in Scotland
  • interviewer-administered in people’s homes
  • Scotland-wide
  • voluntary
  • essentially 3 surveys in one
  • a provider of robust evidence on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of private households and individuals
  • long-running since 1999
  • wide-ranging in topics covered, including evidence on the physical condition of Scotland’s homes

The Scottish Household Survey ( SHS) is a continuous survey based on a random sample of the general population in private residences in Scotland. Questions are asked face-to-face by an interviewer in homes all over Scotland.

Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing ( CAPI) is being used to collect the survey data. This has a number of important advantages over 'pen and paper' interviewing techniques, including faster interviews, automatic edit checks and a quicker flow of information from the survey interviewer to the survey database.

Participation is voluntary, but is important in helping us make representative estimates for Scotland.

The survey started in 1999 and up to 2011 followed a fairly consistent survey design. From 2012 onwards, the survey was substantially redesigned to include elements of the Scottish House Condition Survey [1] ( SHCS) including the follow-up Physical Survey component. The SHS is now essentially 3 surveys in one, Transport and Travel in Scotland survey, the Scottish House Condition Survey as well as the SHS. The survey is run through a consortium led by Ipsos MORI.

The SHS is designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of private households and individuals, both nationally and at a sub-national level and to examine the physical condition of Scotland’s homes. It covers a wide range of topics to allow links to be made between different policy areas.

The specific aims of the survey are to:

  • Meet central and local Government needs for priority policy relevant data across a broad range of topics (including needs for continuing time-series of data collected by the SHS and SHCS previously);
  • Be understandable and useful to stakeholders and so lead to a high level of buy-in and use of the SHS;
  • Have built in flexibility to respond to different data needs regarding geography and frequency (e.g. to provide some data annually at Local Authority level, and some biennially at national level), and changes to these requirements over time;
  • Align with other surveys and data vehicles (in particular the Scottish Health Survey and Scottish Crime and Justice Survey);
  • Produce high quality data in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics [2] so as to provide data that is suitable for the production of National Statistics publications in a cost effective way;
  • Permit disaggregation of information both geographically and in terms of population sub-groups (such as families with children or households in the social rented sector);
  • Allow the relationships between social variables within households to be examined. This will support cross-analysis on a range of issues;
  • Allow detailed follow-up surveys of sub-samples from the main survey sample, if required.

1.2 Reporting

  • Annual Report series since 1999
  • Annual local authority level results
  • Annual Scottish House Condition Survey Key Findings report
  • Annual Transport and Travel in Scotland report
  • Nine of the 55 national indicators in the Government’s National Performance Framework
  • Additionally some data is available through Open Data Platform at statistics.gov.scot
  • Scottish Surveys Core Questions

SHS results have been reported in a series of Annual Reports between 1999 and 2016. The annual report is designed to act as an introduction to the survey and to present and interpret some of the key policy-relevant results at a national level. Results from the SHS at a local authority level will be published soon after. Findings from the Physical Survey component and other house condition information will be published through a separate SHCS 2016 Key Findings report usually scheduled for publication later in the year.

Whilst this release focuses on a number of key results, the SHS collects a wide array of information and so SHS Project Team can be contacted with any additional analysis requests or enquiries [3] .

The SHS is the source of information on nine of the 55 national indicators in the Government’s National Performance Framework [4] . The two transport indicators [5] will be reported on separately by Transport Scotland within their Transport and Travel in Scotland, 2016 report [6] which will also include the SHS Travel Diary 2016. The SHS Annual Report provides estimates for the remaining seven national indicators:

Table 1.1: National indicators reported in the SHS report

National Indicator Topic Indicator Chapter reference
NI 33: Public Service Quality Improve people’s perceptions of the quality of public services Chapter 9
NI 34: Public Service Responsiveness Improve the responsiveness of public services Chapter 9
NI 39: Internet use Widen use of the Internet Chapter 7
NI 40: Neighbourhood rating Improve people's perceptions of their neighbourhood Chapter 4
NI 41: Cultural engagement Increase cultural engagement Chapter 12
NI 43: Scotland’s Outdoors Increase people's use of Scotland's outdoors Chapter 10
NI 54 Greenspace Increase access to local greenspace Chapter 10

Additionally SHS data will be published through the Open Data Platform (statistics.gov.scot), a range of official statistics about Scotland for information and re-use.

Glossary and annexes

Guidance on using the information in the report and a glossary with detailed definitions of some of the key terms are included as annexes. Additional annexes present results on the main classificatory variables used in this report and provide guidance on assessing confidence intervals and the statistical significance of the results.

1.2.1 Additional SHS Reporting

Technical Reports are published separately and include:

  • questionnaire
  • methodology and fieldwork outcomes

Further technical information on the SHS will also be published through the Technical Reports. The Technical Reports comprise of two documents; one providing details of the questionnaire [7] used during 2016 fieldwork; and a more detailed technical report detailing the methodology and fieldwork outcomes [8] .

A number of other Scottish Government publications covering previous years are also available. A comprehensive listing of all publications is available from the SHS website [9] .

1.3 Comparability with Other Sources

In some cases the SHS is not the official source of statistics on a particular topic: such as income, employment or housing. The survey collects information on these topics to select the data of particular groups for further analysis or for use as background variables when analysing other topics. The results are included in order to set the context for, and aid interpretation of, the remaining chapters. Where results are not the official source, this is indicated in the chapter introduction.

The Scottish Government conducts several major population surveys that are used to inform the policy debate in Scotland, and in some instances the surveys can be complementary. The Long Term Strategy for Population Surveys in Scotland 2009-2019, of which the SHS is a central element, is designed to improve the way population surveys are run and to increase the availability and use of survey data, both at a national and local level. A guide is available providing more information on Scotland’s surveys [10] .

There are also a number of Great British ( GB) or UK surveys that include a Scottish dimension i.e. the Labour Force Survey ( LFS) and the Annual Population Survey ( APS) provide statistics for Scotland on employment, unemployment and economic inactivity. The results from both surveys are available from the Labour Market pages of the Scottish Government website.

Preferred sources discussion

  • Scottish Health Survey ( SHeS) is the preferred source for smoking and health information
  • Scottish Crime and Justice Survey is the recommended source for national estimates for fear of crime, perceptions of crime and confidence in the police
  • Transport information found in Transport and Travel in Scotland ( TATIS)
  • Scottish Surveys Core Questions ( SSCQ) is the preferred source for religion, economic activity and qualifications, disability/long term health condition, and tenure
  • Family Resources Survey is the preferred source of Scotland level household income estimates

Both the SHS and the Scottish Health Survey ( SHeS) collect information on smoking prevalence. Until September 2016, the SHS was the preferred source used to update National Indicator 29 on smoking prevalence. The main reason was a larger sample size compared to the Scottish Health Survey and the longer time series available for all adults aged 16+ when the indicator was initially developed.

From September 2016, SHeS became the preferred source for the National Indicator and the complete time series for the indicator was revised. The rationale for the decision was that SHeS uniquely gathers a wide range of other information on smoking behaviour in Scotland, which can also be linked to health related data.

Furthermore, SHeS contains a self-completion component for young adults who are more likely to accurately report their smoking behaviour this way compared to a face-to-face survey question. The latest results from SHeS were published on 20 September 2016 and can be found on the SHeS website [11] . The next SHeS report is due in October 2017.

SHS will continue to gather information on smoking prevalence to contribute to the Scottish Surveys Core Questions ( SSCQ) pooled sample. Pooling samples across the SHS, SHeS and Scottish Crime and Justice Survey ( SCJS) enables detailed and reliable analysis of national estimates by ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, education level and a wide range of other characteristics and estimates for low levels of geography, including local authorities. The latest estimates for the SSCQ 2015 were published on 30 November 2016 [12] .

Alongside smoking, there are a number of questions on general health, long-term conditions and unpaid care which were previously published in the Health chapter of the SHS report. These are also published in SHeS and are also Scottish Survey Core Questions. To avoid confusion around published national estimates, the decision was taken to dispense with the health chapter in the SHS annual report from SHS 2015 onwards.

Similarly, Chapter 4 previously contained data on fear of crime, perceptions of crime and confidence in the police. However, the recommended source for national estimates for these questions is the SCJS, with the most recent findings published in March 2016. Therefore, most of the results based on these questions (which were provided in earlier SHS reports) are no longer included in the SHS 2016 annual report.

Similar to smoking prevalence, the perceptions of crime and confidence in the police are also SSCQs. The Scottish Government recommends that users refer to the SSCQ publication as the preferred source of local authority data for these questions. It is anticipated that the SSCQ publication for 2016 will be published in February 2018.

In a similar vein, the SHS 2016 report no longer has a separate Transport chapter, as this chapter simply replicated data available in Transport and Travel in Scotland ( TATIS), published on the same day as the SHS, or for household access to number of cars, the SSCQ. Similar to other data above, the SSCQ offers a higher level of precision for car access.

There are some key demographic and contextual SSCQs for which data continues to be published in the SHS annual report at national level and will therefore also be published in the SHS local authority tables, as well as in the SSCQ. This includes gender, religion, economic activity and qualifications, disability/long term health condition, and tenure. Due to its higher combined sample size, SSCQ data on these questions will offer a higher level of precision for users seeking standalone estimates for these variables.

Due to methodological difficulties banded household income is not currently reported in the SSCQ and will continue to be published in the SHS annual report and local authority tables as another key contextual variable. However, it should be noted that the Family Resources Survey is the preferred source of Scotland level household income estimates.

1.4 Survey Design

  • Fully un-clustered core and modular structure
  • High sample size (10,500 households, 9,600 adults)
  • Annual LA level data and sub-group analysis including equalities groups
  • Includes a “core” set of 20 questions which have been designed to be asked in consistent ways with other surveys, such as age and gender.
  • “Modules” of questions have been designed to be flexible in terms of topic, frequency and geography

The current survey uses a fully un-clustered core and modular structure, meaning some questions are asked of the full sample and others of a one-third sub-sample. The overall sample size is around 10,500 though improvements from the old survey design mean it will be possible to obtain local authority estimates on an annual basis where sample sizes will produce robust estimates.

Figure 1.1 provides a visual representation of how the core and modular design is structured within each year (between 2012 and 2016) and how this rotates and replicates across subsequent years. This includes a “core” set of 20 questions which have been designed to be asked in consistent ways with other surveys, such as age and gender. The subsequent “modules” of questions have been designed to be flexible in terms of topic, frequency and geography. For example, questions asked of the “full” sample and asked on an “annual” basis would be able to provide local authority level data on an annual basis. Similarly, questions might only be asked of “1/3” of the sample on a “biennial” basis (i.e. asked every second year). Such questions could only get national level estimates every second year.

Figure 1 .1: Representation of multi-year core and modular design

Figure 1 .1: Representation of multi-year core and modular design

The survey questionnaire itself is structured in three main parts:

  • Household (including ‘Random Child’);
  • Random Adult (including ‘Travel Diary’); and
  • Physical inspection of dwelling.

The household reference person, who is the Highest Income Householder ( HIH) or their spouse/partner completes part one of the interview (‘Household’). Details of all members of the household, including children, are collected during the household interview. This includes questions related to the composition and characteristics of the household, and involves capturing basic demographic information of all members of the household, such as gender, age and economic situation at this stage, as well detailed information on dwelling characteristics as captured through the old SHCS. The topics covered in the Household section of the survey are presented in Figure 1.2.

Figure 1.2: Topics covered in SHS 2016 Household component

Household Composition People living in household, basic demographics
Accommodation Property type, Tenure & Length of tenure, Ownership of property, Previous home
Household Services Number of bedrooms, Internet access, Food waste/recycling
Driving and Transport Cars, Fuel spend, Bicycles
Children and Young People Schools and travel to school, Activities and play
Health and Disability Long-term health condition/illness
House Condition Survey Repairs, Satisfaction with accommodation, Adaptations, Heating (including heating patterns, control, cost and suitability), Energy Efficiency and Insulation
Household Employment Employment details including status, working patterns, type of work
Household Income Householder/Spouse paid/self-employed/other jobs, Benefits, Other sources
Household Finances Material deprivation
Mortgages and Rent Mortgage & Rent, Household costs including service charges and council tax, Managing financially
Household Composition People living in household, basic demographics

Subsequently a child is selected from all household members under 16 (the ‘Random Child’) and the household respondent is asked questions about childcare for that child. A child who is at school is also selected (the ‘Random School Child’) [13] and the household respondent answers questions about the school that child attends and the journey they make to go there.

Once the composition of the household has been established, one of the adults in the household is randomly selected by the interview’s computer to complete part two (‘Random Adult’) [14] . This covers behavioural and attitudinal type questions, such as satisfaction with local services, and captures further demographic information on the random adult. This element also covers the ‘Travel Diary’ component which asks about travel behaviours on the day previous to that of the interview day. In all households with a single adult the same person completes both parts, but as the number of adults in the household increases, the probability of the random adult being the same as the household respondent declines [15] . The topics covered in the Random Adult section of the survey are presented in Figure 1.3.

Figure 1.3: Topics covered in SHS 2016 Random Adult component

Adult Characteristics Basic demographics, Country of birth and date of entry
Accommodation Housing experiences
Neighbourhoods and Communities Rating, Belonging, Crime & Police performance, Greenspace, Anti-social behaviour, Safety, Discrimination and Harassment, Involvement with Neighbours
Education Qualifications, Internet (including use and access, internet security)
Travel and Transport License, Driving, Electric cars, Travel to work/education, Congestion, Car sharing, Air travel, Public transport & Incidents, Journey planning, Road accidents, and Travel Diary
Volunteering, Local government & services, Culture & Sport, Environment Volunteering, Perceptions of local government, Perceptions of local services, Culture, Sport, Views on Climate change, Access to Outdoors,
Health, Disability & Caring Self-assessed health, Disability, Caring responsibilities, Smoking, Concessionary travel
Employment Employment status & Government work scheme

If the household was selected to take part in the physical inspection follow-up the HIH is asked if they would be willing to arrange an appointment for this at the end of the Household component of the survey. Such surveys are conducted by professional surveyors through a visual inspection of the dwelling. The surveyor will assess the condition, design and energy efficiency of the home, with much of their time spent surveying the outside, but they will ask to see all the rooms inside. Results from the Physical Survey will be reported on separately later in the year in the SHCS report previously mentioned.

Further information on the SHS Questionnaire can be found via the relevant technical report on the SHS website [16] .

1.5 Sampling

  • SHS sample has been designed by the Scottish Government
  • The sample is drawn from the small user file of the Postcode Address File ( PAF)
  • Sample design coordinated with other surveys
  • Samples of the three surveys can be pooled for further analysis. The Scottish Survey Core Questions allows more detailed analysis
  • Nationally representative samples of private households and of the adult population in private households are produced
  • SHS sample has been designed to allow annual publication of results
  • Target sample size for Scotland was 10,678 household interviews
  • The SHS response rate declined from 67 per cent in 2014 to 64 per cent in 2015

Since 2012 the SHS sample has been designed by the Scottish Government. The sample design was coordinated with the sample designs for the Scottish Health Survey ( SHeS) and the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey ( SCJS) as part of a survey efficiency project and to allow the samples of the three surveys to be pooled for further analysis. The 2015 pooled sample for the three surveys was published in November 2016 [17] . The Scottish Surveys Core Questions ( SSCQ) 2015 is the latest in a series of publications providing statistics from pooled survey responses. SSCQ provides reliable and detailed information on the composition, characteristics and attitudes of Scottish households and adults across a number of topic areas including equality characteristics, housing, employment and perceptions of health and crime.

The sample for the survey meets a number of criteria. It is designed to provide nationally representative samples of private households and of the adult population in private households. This is achieved by splitting the interview between a household respondent and an adult selected at random from the permanent residents of the household.

The SHS sample has been designed to allow annual publication of results at a Scotland and local authority level. To meet these requirements the target sample size for Scotland was 10,678 household interviews with a minimum local authority target of 258. From 2012 onwards the physical survey of the Scottish House Condition Survey ( SHCS) has been incorporated into the SHS. A subsample of the main sample has been allocated to the physical survey, which has a target sample size of 3,004 for Scotland and a minimum target of 80 for each local authority.

The sample is drawn from the small user file of the Postcode Address File ( PAF). The overall design is a random sample, stratified to target a minimum of 250 interviews per local authority.

The main features of the design are:

  • First stage, disproportionate stratification by local authority;
  • Within each local authority, second stage systematic random sampling was used to select the addresses from the sample frame with the addresses ordered by urban-rural classification, Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD) rank and postcode;
  • Once the overall sample was selected, systematic random sampling was used to select the subsample for the physical survey.

As the samples for the SHS, SHeS and SCJS have all been selected by the Scottish Government since 2012, addresses selected for any of the surveys are removed from the sample frame so that they cannot be re-sampled for another survey. This has helped to reduce respondent burden and has facilitated the development of the pooled sample. The addresses are removed from the sample frame for a minimum of 4 years.

Information on response rates and other such information will be available in the accompanying SHS 2016 Methodology and Fieldwork Outcomes report due for publication in Winter 2017/2018. The SHS response rate declined from 67 per cent in 2014 to 64 per cent in 2015 (10,325 household interviews) and 2016 (10,470). Analysis carried out to date suggests that this has had minimal or little impact on the survey results.

Conclusion

This chapter has provided an introduction describing what the Scottish Household Survey is. It outlines the nature of the information reported, including the comparability with other sources. The survey design and sampling are both explained. This information sets the context for the next chapters describing the survey findings.


Contact

Email: Emma McCallum, emma.mccallum@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG