- Professor Rory Fitzgerald (Principal Investigator)
The European Social Survey (ESS) has been led by a team based at City, University of London for 17 years. Every two years, a general social survey is administered in up to 32 countries.
Since 2013, the ESS has been a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), meaning that it is funded by all participating countries.
A wide-ranging questionnaire - meticulously translated - facilitates the measurement of the attitudes and behaviour of residents in each participating country. The questionnaire is asked to a representative sample of adults aged 15+ in each country selected using strict probability methods.
The ESS has become an authoritative source of data about changes and stability in the social and political values of those living in Europe. There are over 184,00 registered users of ESS data from across the world.
What did we explore and how?
Each iteration of the survey measures attitudes and behaviour on crime and justice, democracy, discrimination, Europe, government, health and wellbeing, identity, immigration, media, political values and participation, religion and social trust. All data can be analysed by a wide range of socio demographics, collected from respondents, and weighted to be representative of the entire national population of each country.
Additionally, in each round of the ESS, two other topics are covered in more depth. Data is therefore also available on ageism, citizen involvement, climate change and energy, crime and justice, democracy, economic morality, the relationship between family, work and wellbeing, the fairness of income and opportunities, health, immigration, social inequalities in health, timing of life, welfare and wellbeing.
This data has been analysed for research published in 5,429 English language publications (journal articles; books and chapters; working papers), with 2,874 appearing in peer-reviewed journals.
Benefits and influence of this research
The ESS has benefited policy makers at the supra-national, national, and regional levels. Clear examples of ESS data having impact beyond academia have been identified. The impact is international and widespread.
- ESS data is used for the United Nations and European Commission’s Active Ageing Index.
- Analysis of ESS data was included in the National Report on Life Quality and Its Sustainability, submitted to the Czech government.
- ESS data is used in the World Health Organization’s European Health Equity Status report.
- The Estonian government has used ESS data to support the development of new adult home care provision.
- ESS survey design and data were used in evaluating a Universal Basic Income (UBI) trial in Finland.
- The French government agency National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) and the Wellbeing Observatory prepared a report on wellbeing, using ESS data.
- The ESS has been analysed for German government policy papers on climate change, immigration, trust in political systems and wellbeing.
- In Hungary, ESS data informed a study of the social relationships of people aged 65+ in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ESS findings led to a reversal of conventional thinking on the factors leading to anti-immigrant prejudices in Europe at the United Nations.
- The Healthy and Positive Aging Initiative (HaPAI) has used the ESS as the basis for its own survey questions to improve services for ageing Irish citizens.
- ESS data on trust was assessed as part of the Latvian National Development Plan 2021-2027.
- The Lithuanian Strategy for Demography, Migration and Integration Policy 2018-2030 includes ESS data to support the fostering of stronger communities.
- Evidence of the amount and quality of democratic participation in Sweden was used from the ESS for an inquiry into democracy, commissioned by the government.
- ESS findings led to the initiation of bespoke training to improve trust in the Portuguese judiciary.