General social surveys

Not all national statistical agencies run general social surveys, and among those that do, the content and focus vary considerably. Some national statistical agencies, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, focus their general social survey primarily on measures of social capital and social inclusion, while others rotate modules on different topics between survey waves (Statistics Canada) or are explicitly multi-dimensional (Statistics New Zealand). The latter two approaches are particularly appropriate vehicles for collecting information on subjective well-being (and indeed, both Statistics Canada and Statistics

New Zealand collect information on subjective well-being in their general social surveys). Surveys with rotating content, such as the Canadian General Social Survey, offer the opportunity for a subjective well-being module that can collect information in some depth if this is determined to be a priority. Surveys with a wider focus, such as the New Zealand General Social Survey, are particularly valuable in that they allow for the analysis of the joint distribution of subjective well-being and of a wide variety of other topics, including material conditions and objective aspects of quality of life. Regardless of whether a specific subjective well-being module is collected as part of a general social survey, it is very desirable that at least the core module be collected in all general social surveys.

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