This website is no longer being updated. Please go to GOV.SCOT

Scottish Household Survey - Survey Details

SHS logo (transparent)

Survey Details

This section provides background information on the Scottish Household Survey.

Overview | Methodology | Survey Content | Data Limitations | Managing Survey Development | Survey Review | List of Topics | Variable Lookup



Historically, information sources available for Scotland were often too infrequent, insufficiently detailed, or based on too small samples to provide reliable information for Scotland. Thus, in April 1998, Scottish Office Ministers approved the commissioning by the then Scottish Office Development Department of a new large scale survey - The Scottish Household Survey.

The findings from the survey are of interest to a wide audience and provide the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government and other interested parties with accurate, up-to-date information on the impact on households and individuals of key services and policies for which the Government is responsible.

In many areas of the work of the Scottish Government - particularly Housing, Social Justice and Transport which form core spine of the survey - effective evaluation of policy and development of policy advice requires good quality information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of households and individuals at national and sub-national level.

The Scottish Household Survey is intended to meet these needs and the needs for information to support the work of the Scottish Government and Parliament.

Survey Coverage

The survey commenced in February 1999. Over the first four years it achieved a sample of approximately 62,000 households collected continuously. The contract was extended for another four years (2003-2006 inclusive). A further contract, extending with a similar design, saw the survey run between 2007 and 2010, with a further one year extension in 2011.

Latterly, interviews were carried out in approximately 3,900 households each quarter. The survey ws designed so that the interviews from each quarter will provide results which are representative of Scotland as a whole. Statistically reliable results are available for larger local authorities on an annual basis and for all Local Authorities, regardless of size, every 2 years (1999/2000, 2001/2002, 2003/2004, 2005/2006, 2007/2008 and 2009/2010).

From January 2012, a new survey went in to the field which had a substantially restructured sample design and integrated the previous Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) data requirements in there also.  The overall sample size has reduced from around 14,000 to about 11,000 though improvements to efficiency of the survey design mean we are likely to be able to publish LA estimates on an annual basis where analysis permits.

The SHS up to 2011 cost around £1.6 million annually (excluding VAT), whilst the SHS from 2012 onwards costs around £2 million annually. 

An information leaflet is distributed to Scottish households selected to take part in the survey. This gives people an overview of some key findings in the survey.

Aims and Objectives

The specific aims of the survey are to:

  • Provide household and individual information not currently available in Scotland, particularly to support the work of Communities, Local Government and Transport areas and the work of the Scottish Parliament;
  • Permit disaggregation of such information both geographically and in terms of population sub-groups (such as families with children or the elderly);
  • Allow the relationships between social variables within households to be examined. This will support cross-departmental and inter-departmental policies such as those on social justice and welfare-to-work;
  • Allow early detection of national trends;
  • Allow detailed follow-up surveys of sub-samples from the main survey sample, if required.