2008 General Social Survey

    Selected Tables on Social Engagement

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    The figures which appear in this report are estimates based on data collected from a small fraction of the population (roughly one person in 1,300) 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 an estimate derived from the sample and the one that would have been obtained from a census that used the same procedures to collect data from every person in the population. The size of the sampling error can be estimated from the survey results and an indication of the magnitude of this error is given for the estimates in this report. If the estimated sampling error is greater than 33% of the estimate, it is considered too unreliable to publish and the symbol 'F' is printed in table cells where this occurs. Although not considered too unreliable to publish, estimates with an estimated error between 16.6% and 33.3% of the related estimate should be "qualified" and used with caution. These are identified with an 'E'. Where there were insufficient data for particular provinces to allow for analysis, responses were aggregated into a regional table, such as the Atlantic or Prairie provinces.

    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.

    To the extent that the non-responding households and persons differ from the rest of the sample, the estimates will be biased. 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. As such, some non-response occurred at the household level, some at the individual level. Non-response also occurs at the level of individual questions.

    For most questions, the response rate was high, with non-response indicated in the data files. 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.

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