European Social Survey data

Since 2001, the European Social Survey (ESS) has begun mapping long-term attitudinal and behavioural change in Europe. Covering attitudes to religion, politics, discrimination and pressing policy concerns, the data reveal intriguing contrasts and similarities between amongst over 30 European countries. It is the first social science project to win Europe’s prestigious Descartes Prize “for excellence in collaborative scientific research”, and is also one of the first to become a European Commission ‘Infrastructure’, in recognition of its high technical and academic standards and their impact on advancing the field of comparative social measurement.

In 2005, Professor Felicia Huppert of the University of Cambridge, asked nef, together with four other research centres, to join an ultimately successful application to the ESS to develop a 50-item questionnaire module to assess ‘personal and social well-being’ across Europe. A key aim in the design of the module was to measure both the ‘feelings’ and ‘functionings’ aspects of well-being, as well as psychological resources, such as resilience and self-esteem. A further aim was to go beyond individualistic aspects of well-being, by also incorporating measures of interpersonal, social well-being.

The survey fieldwork was carried out using face-to-face interviewing across Europe from autumn 2006 onwards with data released in autumn 2007 (Round 3, edition 3.1). In each country a sample of over 1500 adults was drawn using random probability methods. The resulting dataset therefore contains detailed measures of the individual experiences of just under 45,000 people. These data have been used to construct the national accounts framework reported here, for 22 European countries participating in the survey, covering both EU and non-EU members. The dataset can be downloaded (Round 3, edition 3.1)., and the individual survey questions explored online, at the ESS data website.

We used the weighted dataset for 22 European countries, excluding Romania and Lativa, for whom full survey weights were not available, and Russia. In addition respondents who had missing data on any of the questions included in the accounts (except for one question not asked in Hungary – see Appendix 2 of the report for details) were also excluded. Russia was excluded because its large population means that the data have to have large weights applied (a quarter of the total weighted count for the combined dataset). This high weight could have lead to distortion in analysis. Furthermore as conditions in Russia are not typical in ‘Europe’, and indeed much of Russia is not geographically in Europe, we decided not to include it in the national accounts.

Read more about how we used ESS data to calculate indicator scores .