Quality of Life Survey 7 (2023/24)
The Quality of Life (QoL) survey, collected every two years, has become the GCRO’s flagship project. The survey measures the quality of life, socio-economic circumstances, perceptions of service delivery, psycho-social attitudes, value-base and other characteristics of residents in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR).
Since inception in 2009, the QoL survey has developed into one of the largest social surveys in South Africa and provides spatially fine-grained insights into the lives of the GCR residents. It has been recognised for providing high quality data at extremely low levels of geography. Furthermore, it represents an invaluable resource for provincial and local government in the province, as well as for numerous academic and non-profit research projects.
QoL survey data can be analysed at the provincial, municipal and ward levels, which provides particular value given the diverse population and extremely high levels of inequality in the GCR. Given the commitment of South Africa’s post-apartheid government to improving standards of living in the country, through the provision of basic services, QoL provides great value as a tracking tool and a rich information resource for policy makers and the public wanting to observe where progress has been made and where gaps remain.
The implementation of the GCRO’s QoL Survey, with six iterations to date, is an enormous undertaking. The preparations for the launch of the 7th survey iteration started in late 2021. Key preparatory activities included budgeting, tender advertisement and adjudication, determining project time frames, high-level stakeholder engagement, and questionnaire development which included the exploration of potential thematic focus areas for QoL 7.
Methodological feasibility study
As part of the preparations for the initial step to undertaking QoL 7, the GCRO conducted a feasibility study from late 2021 to early 2022. The study employed mixed methods to explore potential strategies to reduce the difficulty and cost of implementing a QoL survey. It involved secondary analysis of QoL 6 survey implementation metadata for an enhanced understanding of survey yield in different areas as well as the effectiveness of various approaches to negotiating access. More than 20 key informant interviews (KIIs) with gatekeepers, community and security groups, and ward councillors were conducted to better understand their preferences and experiences with providing access for survey teams.
Informed by the secondary analysis and KIIs, a small, in-field pilot of various modes of recruitment and interviews was conducted. The pilot study tested the feasibility of various modified in-person recruitment processes, as well as telephonic recruitment. Participants were offered the opportunity to complete the interview in a range of different ways - in person with an interviewer, on their own using a study tablet, on their own on a web interface, over the phone, or via a zoom interview.
The feasibility study provided valuable lessons to support the process of securing access and community buy-in for survey implementation in challenging areas. Results suggest that the QoL survey will need to continue operating on a largely in-person basis, although there is some evidence that supports the use of telephonic recruitment and interviews in areas where physical access challenges are particularly severe. The feasibility study report is available for download here.
GCRO conducted a consultative process to develop the questionnaire for the QoL 7 survey. This involved a highly productive engagement with GCRO staff and key partners, including the reduction of the questionnaire's length, the submission of content proposals for new questions, a staff-wide workshop to deliberate on new content, and two pilot sessions to test new questions and the overall questionnaire.
Throughout this comprehensive process, various modules were integrated into the QoL 7 questionnaire. These modules include Administrative, Demographics, Core services, Environment/Sustainability, Governance, Health, Social mobility, Economic, Social cohesion, Community attitudes, Transport, Experiences of violence, Life satisfaction, Crime and Safety, and Migration. The careful development of QoL questionnaires ensures that they accurately capture the data that provides insights into residents’ quality of life in Gauteng.
Tender and appointment of service provider
The GCRO, through Wits Procurement, undertook a very rigorous selection process to appoint a service provider to conduct the QoL 7 survey. During this thorough evaluation, the GCRO initially considered over 10 bidders, and ultimately shortlisted only six for the subsequent assessment. In this selection procedure, the GCRO employed a standardised yet exhaustive rubric, which resulted in the appointment of Geospace International, who met all the specified requirements. GeoSpace International is a Pretoria-based organisation with extensive local and international experience in conducting household-based interviews both in-person and telephonically.
Training and pilot
In late August 2023, GeoSpace International, in collaboration with GCRO, conducted one-week training sessions for fieldworkers to prepare them for the data collection of the QoL 7 survey. This training provided fieldworkers with the necessary skills required for various tasks related to data collection, including sample point selection for interviews, a comprehensive understanding of each question in the questionnaire, sensitivity towards respondents, and the entire interview process.
GeoSpace International’s project manager trains fieldworkers for QoL 7 survey. Photo by GeoSpace International
Following training, GeoSpace International conducted a pilot phase to assess whether fieldworkers were adequately trained and prepared to commence full-scale data collection. The thorough fieldworker training and pilot phase equipped fieldworkers with the necessary skills to conduct interviews effectively and professionally. Together, these preparatory processes laid a strong foundation for the fieldwork, ensuring the collection of high-quality data.
The fieldwork for QoL 7 Survey began on 11 September 2023 and is currently underway throughout the Gauteng province. The rollout of fieldwork for this iteration marks a significant milestone of a thoroughly planned and executed process by the GCRO and GeoSpace International.
Fieldworkers prepare for QoL 7 Survey data collection on 11 September 2023. Photo by GeoSpace International
The GCRO, through GeoSpace International's fieldwork capacity, anticipates conducting more than 13 700 interviews with randomly selected adult respondents over 18 years at their homes.
For more information, access QoL 7 survey materials here.
Past Quality of Life surveys
All Quality of Life survey data is made freely available under a CC BY 4.0 license. The datasets can be accessed via the DataFirst service based at UCT, or on request from the GCRO.
Last updated: 06 November 2023.