Quality of Life survey: technical review

  • GCRO
  • Date of publication: 02 July 2019

The results of the GCRO’s 5th Quality of Life Survey 2017/2018 (QoL) were released at a high-profile launch in November 2018. The launch was attended by dignitaries from provincial and local government, including Gauteng Premier David Makhura who formally responded to the survey results.

With just under 25 000 people interviewed across Gauteng’s 529 wards for the 5th edition, the 2017/18 QoL Survey is one of the biggest social attitudes surveys in sub-Saharan Africa.

The QoL survey has been conducted every two years since 2009, making 2019 the survey’s 10th anniversary. Dr Julia de Kadt, senior researcher at the GCRO, observes, “This milestone provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and strengths of the QoL survey to date, as well as an opportunity to explore ways to ensure the ongoing value and sustainability of the survey into the future.”

To this end, the GCRO has initiated a 10-year technical review of the QoL survey. The review focuses on issues of sample composition and weighting, implementation of the survey in the field, and questionnaire design and indexing. Additional work on data use and dissemination is also underway. The review is being externally chaired by Professor Mark Orkin, former Statistician General and former CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

For each focus area, the GCRO is convening an expert workshop independently facilitated by Dr Tara Polzer Ngwato, Social Surveys Research Director at Social Surveys Africa. In preparation for the workshops, the GCRO has conducted a series of stakeholder interviews, as well as landscaping interviews with individuals involved in broadly similar work, along with extensive desktop research. Briefing material is prepared for each workshop, which is then circulated to expert panellists to inform the workshop proceedings.

The first workshop, on sampling and weighting, took place on Thursday 14 February. The expert panellists included Professor Emeritus Paul Fatti (Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of the Witwatersrand), Professor Khangelani Zuma (Human Sciences Research Council), Dr Ariane Neethling (Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of the Free State, and independent sampling consultant), Nthabiseng Makhatha (Deputy Director-General at Statistics South Africa) and Azam Khan (Methodologist at Statistics South Africa).

The second workshop, on survey implementation and management, took place on Monday 11 March. Expert panellists included Professor Reza Daniels (National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) and Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the UCT School of Economics), Dr Isabelle Schmidt (Chief Director: Social Statistics at Statistics South Africa), Darryn Durno (fieldwork practitioner), and Martin Bekker (former researcher for Royal Bafokeng).

The third workshop, on questionnaire design and indexing, was held on 5 June 2019. All three workshops, which were well-attended by GCRO colleagues, provided robust, constructive debate and delivered valuable insights from a range of perspectives, opening up new questions and approaches for the GCRO to explore. The GCRO is also exploring the possibility of a fourth workshop on data use and dissemination.


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