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Scottish Household Survey - Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

This section contains a number of frequently asked questions about the Scottish Household Survey. FAQs are available for the following topics:

Background to Survey | Accessing Data | Questionnaire

Acccessing Data

News and Developments

How do I keep up to date with SHS news and developments?

If you wish to be added to the e-mail mailing list to be kept informed of details of SHS developments, you should register your interest in 'Population and Household Survey' topic in the ScotStat Register.

The previous Scottish Household Survey e-mail distribution list will now cease to operate and all future up-dates will be e-mailed through the ScotStat distribution list.


All annual reports and publications are available from the SHS website.  The two main releases are the Annual Report and the Local Authority Tables.  The Annual Report is the first release of the data and this contains key analysis from the survey at Scotland level.  The Local Authority tables reproduce the tables and charts from the Annual Report at Local Authority level.

Annual Reports

The latest SHS Annual Report was published in August 2015. The next Annual Report will be published in September 2016.

Local Authority Tables

The latest SHS Local Authority Tables were published in October 2015. The next Local Authority tables will be published by November 2016.

Accessing Data

How can I access SHS data?

Access to SHS data, including the full SHS data sets are managed by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) core services. This is a national data service that brings together the UK Data Archive (UKDA), Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), Manchester Information and Associated Services (MIMAS) and the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Social Research (CCSR).

SHS datasets can be obtained via the ordering data webpage

Go to access data

We are keen for our users to use the 'one stop' ESDS registration:

3 Steps to ESDS registration

1. Login using Athens to an ESDS resource or go direct to this login page


2. Complete the online registration form and agree to the terms and conditions of the End User Licence.

3. Receive a conformation email. If prompted visit the web page indicated in the email to complete registration.

Follow on-line guidance if you do not have an Athens username and password. ESDS can issue Athens passwords directly to those working in the not for profit sector subject to agreement to terms and conditions. Those working in the Further or Higher Education or in the NHS should contact their Athens administrator. For those of you in local government or the voluntary sector, ESDS can issue an Athens password to you directly or alternatively you can access the data using your old UKDA password- the ESDS system will partially complete the Athens registration form.

Will it cost anything?

All users requiring data for non-commercial propose can download data free of charge. The UKDA charges a flat fee of £7.50 per CD order, a per study fee handling fee of £2.50 and a flat rate postage fee of £3(UK).

The SHS Team can provide SHS lite CD free of charge

Who can obtain SHS data?

Anyone can obtain the data and is free to anyone within the not for profit sector including further and higher education, local and central government and the NHS.

Where data is required for commercial purposes there is a per study fee of £500. See charging information on the UKDA website

What is the most up to date data available?




2014 ESDS/UKDA website SN 7964
2013 ESDS/UKDA website SN 7963
2012 ESDS/UKDA website SN 7740

1999/2000 Full dataset & lite versions

ESDS/UKDA website

SN 4351 (FULL)

SN 5030 (LITE)

2001/2002 Full dataset & lite versions

ESDS/UKDA website

SN 4642 (FULL)

SN5031 (LITE)

2003 (annual data)

ESDS/UKDA website

SN 5020



SN 5020 (FULL)

SN 5261 (LITE)

What format is data available in?

Most of the datasets are available in SPSS, SAS and tab delimited format (suitable for use in excel). Most of the SHS datasets are also available in the Nesstar system which will allow you to explore the data online and to do basic exploratory analysis before choosing to download all, or subset, of the data.

SHS Lite

SHS Lite User guide

A simplified dataset has been developed by a working group comprising Scottish Government analysts and external representatives. A user guide has been produced - SHS Lite -User Guide: A guide to using the Scottish Household Survey simplified dataset - which is available from the website or on request from the SHS project team.

What is SHS lite?

In order to encourage more people, particularly those in local authorities and the voluntary sector, to make use of the SHS dataset, the Scottish Executive commissioned the development of a simplified 'lite' version of the full dataset. The full SHS dataset is both larger and more complex, containing around 30,000 cases each two year sweep of the survey with each case having approximately 2,000 variables. With fewer variable, the lite dataset will allow faster analysis on most computers. The lite dataset allows users to undertake most forms of analysis using a smaller data file. It is formatted in SPSS to provide all the necessary statistical function for useful analysis in a form that is easy to navigate. It is aimed at those who already have a basic working knowledge of SPSS.

The dataset is available on CD and comes with training material to provide users with self-directed study.

How do I make a request for SHS lite?

SHS lite is available to anyone on request. The SHS lite dataset is deposited at the Data archive and it is also available on request on CD along with a User Guide free of charge.

Please email the SHS mailbox if you wish to receive a hard copy of current lite dataset on CD and accompanying User Guide. Before hard copies can be distributed- a SHS lite registration, terms and conditions form needs to be filled in and signed. This form can be downloaded from the SHS website Please fill in this form and send to SHS address. Please note the form requires a signature- emailed forms will not be accepted.

Requesting Tables or Analyses

How do I get a table that is not in an annual report?

The SHS team is the first point of contact for requests for data analysis. Analysis is carried out by statisticians with access to SHS data.

The SHS team can be reached via the SHS mailbox

It would be useful to be as specific as possible and to include the following in your email:

· Which questions from the questionnaire you wish analysis of

· What year of data you require

· Timescales (when you need it for)

How do I make a request for a special dataset?

The SHS team is the first point of contact for requests for 'special datasets'. These are request where the standard anonymised dataset deposited at the Data Archive does not contain all the information you require, for example where more detailed geography, or age etc are required.

Please email all requests to the SHS mailbox again being as specific as possible. All requests for special datasets will be circulated to the SHS Technical Group members who will make a decision on whether to release the data. This ensures we are complying with regulations such as the Data Protection Act 1998.

Follow-up Surveys

What is a follow-up survey?

One of the intentions of the SHS is to identify sub-groups of the population to allow for more detailed follow- up research.

At the end of each interview, respondents are asked whether they are willing to be re-contacted for further research. The wording of the consent they are asked to give is as follows:

"In the future, the Scottish Government may want to commission follow-up research among particular groups of the public to improve public policies and services. Please be assured that any information you provide for this purpose will only be released for bone fide social research carried out be reputable research organisations and that your confidentiality will be protected in the publication of any results given.

Would you be willing to have your name, contact details and relevant answers you have given during the interview passed on to the Scottish Government or other research agencies acting on behalf of, or in collaboration with, the Scottish Government for this purpose?"

How do I make a request for a follow-up survey?

From April 2003, researchers working in collaboration with the Scottish Government can request to use the follow-up sample. In the first instances an application should be made to the SHS mailbox. This communication should convey as much detail as possible about the proposed details, preferably covering the following issues as a business case:

  • Expected timescale
  • The proposed topic coverage and aims and objectives of the research
  • The population sub-groups to be targeted
  • Planned sample size
  • Methodology
  • And justification for the use of the SHS as opposed to other sampling frames.

On receipt of this application the Project Manager will seek the advice or approval of the Scottish Household Survey Technical group on this matter.

Project costs must also be considered by anyone planning to undertake follow-up research as the costs for drawing a sample from the SHS, undertaking the follow-up research and the dissemination of findings must be met from outside the SHS budget. There would be a cost for the sampling and mailing which would be payable to MORI, our contractor.


I want Anti-social Behaviour (ASB) data for my local authority from the SHS?

Further information is available from the Anti-Social Behaviour and the Scottish Household Survey page.

How do I contact the SHS team?

In the first instance all enquires should be emailed to the SHS mailbox: please see our Contacts page for further details.