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Background Notes

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Purpose of Survey

The annual Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Household Survey 2020 contributes to the EU requirement under Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 concerning Community Statistics on the Information Society (OJ L143, 30.04.2004, p. 49). It covers a range of topics related to internet penetration and use of ICT by households and individuals.

The survey is conducted annually and asks respondents about their ICT activities over the previous three months. Each year, the survey includes a specific group of questions relating to a particular area of ICT. In 2020, additional questions relating to Internet Security, Smartphone Security and Smart Technology were included.

Questionnaire Design

The ICT Household Survey 2020 was designed in line with the European Community Survey on ICT Usage in Households and By Individuals 2020 Model Questionnaire. The survey is harmonised across EU member states and meets EU regulation requirements to allow comparability of results published by other countries. The specific data requirements of the survey are defined annually through a consultation process with users and policy makers within Eurostat and EU member states. Once the details of the survey requirements have been agreed, an annual implementing regulation is passed to turn the requirements into EU law. CSO takes part in this annual consultation process and fully engage in the development of the questionnaire for each year. The collection of the data under the aforementioned European Regulation implies that harmonised data can be obtained across all EU member states.

Data in this domain is collected annually by the National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) and is based on the aforementioned Eurostat's annual Model Questionnaire on ICT usage in households and by individuals. The Eurostat Model Questionnaire has a core set of questions, which are asked on an annual basis. Additional modules on ICT are repeated annually, biennially or triennially. In addition, special modules or topics on new emerging concepts or technologies are also included each year. In 2020, additional questions relating to the Internet Security, Smartphone Security and Smart Technology were included. Additional questions of national interest are also included in the national questionnaire.

The ICT Household Survey was based on the implementing Regulation (EU) No 808/2004 and the Model Questionnaire provided by Eurostat.

Survey Questionnaire

The ICT Household Survey 2020 was designed in line with the European Community Survey on ICT Usage in Households and By Individuals 2020 Model Questionnaire. Data given in this domain are collected annually by the National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) and are based on Eurostat's annual Model Questionnaire on ICT usage in households and by individuals. The collection of the data under the aforementioned European Regulation implies that harmonised data can be obtained across the European continent.

The 2020 ICT household questionnaire is available at: ICT Household Survey Questionnaire (PDF 465KB)  

DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index)

More information on DESI is available on the European Commission website

The data collected in this domain by Ireland and other National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) contribute to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) and Digital Scoreboard. DESI is a composite index published every year by the European Commission since 2014, measuring the progress of EU countries towards a digital economy and society. As such, it brings together a set of relevant indicators on Europe’s current digital policy mix, as follows:

Connectivity - Broadband market developments in the EU - the deployment of broadband infrastructure and its quality. Access to fast and ultrafast broadband-enabled services is a necessary condition for competitiveness.

Human Capital - Digital Inclusion and Skills - measures the skills needed to take advantage of the possibilities offered by digital.

Use of Internet Services - accounts for a variety of online activities, such as the consumption of online content (videos, music, games, etc.) video calls as well as online shopping and banking.

Integration of Digital Technology - measures the digitisation of businesses and e-commerce. By adopting digital technologies, businesses can enhance efficiency, reduce costs and better engage customers and business partners. Furthermore, the Internet as a sales outlet offers access to wider markets and potential for growth.

The aim of the European ICT surveys is the timely provision of statistics on individuals and households on the use of Information and Communication Technologies at European level.

Survey Design

The survey instrument used to carry out the ICT Household Survey has changed since the survey was last carried out in 2019, when it was carried out using the General Household Survey (GHS). In 2020, the ICT Household survey was carried out using the Labour Force Survey (LFS), using both Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). The GHS is carried out in CAPI mode only. For the purposes of achieving sufficient sample size and Eurostat reporting requirements, the ICT Household survey was included in the LFS survey for two quarters in 2020, Quarters 1 and 2, instead of just Quarter 1. In all previous iterations of the ICT Household survey, the survey was carried out in Quarter 1 only.

The LFS data collection is carried out in 5 waves over 5 quarters. The headline indicator questions of the ICT Household Survey on household internet connectivity and frequency of individual usage of the internet were asked of all waves of the LFS in Quarters 1 and 2, and all other questions on the ICT Household Survey on detailed ICT usage were asked of wave 5 respondents only. This change has affected sample size. While the achieved sample size for the headline indicator questions has substantially increased – 25,211 (13,239 in Quarter 1 2020 and 11,972 in Quarter 2), compared with an achieved sample size of 3,971 respondents in Quarter 1 2019, the achieved sample size for the questions on detailed ICT usage at an individual level, was much lower – 1,155 respondents. For the purposes of this publication and Eurostat reporting requirements, data from two quarters, Quarter 1 and 2, was used.

Reference Period

In 2020. the ICT Household Survey was carried out in the six months from January to June (Quarters 1 and 2). In previous years, the survey was carried out only in the three months from January to March (Quarter 1).

The questionnaire asks questions about ICT activities for the reference period of three months prior to the interview taking place. 

Survey Coverage

The ICT Household Survey data is collected directly from private households. Institutional households, (e.g. nursing homes, barracks, boarding schools, hotels etc.) are not covered by the survey. A household is defined as a single person or group of people who usually reside together in the same accommodation and who share the same catering arrangements. The household members are not necessarily related by blood or marriage.

A person is defined as a "Usual Resident" of a private household if he or she:

  • Lives regularly at the dwelling in question, and
  • Shares the main living accommodation (i.e. kitchen, living room or bathroom) with the other members of the household.

Data Collection

The LFS is conducted using mixed mode data collection with the introduction of Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Information is collected from each sample household over 5 successive quarters or waves. The first interview is conducted by a team of face-to-face interviewers using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI). The four follow-up interviews are conducted using CATI from a dedicated call centre, where householders have agreed to conduct a telephone interview, but are conducted using face-to-face interviews where householders have not agreed to conduct a telephone interview.

The ICT Household Survey was included in the LFS in Quarters 1 and 2. The headline indicator questions of the ICT Household Survey on household internet connectivity and frequency of individual usage of the internet were asked of all waves of the LFS in Quarters 1 and 2, and all other questions on the ICT Household Survey on detailed ICT usage were asked of wave 5 respondents only.

Sample Design

In 2020, the ICT Household Survey was carried out using the LFS survey instrument. Full details of the LFS survey design are available in the Methodology of the LFS

In the LFS, households are asked to take part in the survey for 5 consecutive quarters (5 waves). For the purposes of achieving sufficient sample size and Eurostat reporting requirements, the ICT Household Survey is included in the LFS survey vehicle for two quarters in 2020, Quarters 1 and 2, instead of just Quarter 1. The headline indicator questions on household internet connectivity and frequency of individual usage of the internet were asked of all waves of the LFS in Quarters 1and 2, and all other questions on the ICT Household survey on usage of the internet were asked of wave 5 respondents only.

The total achieved sample size for the ICT Household Survey headline indicator questions in Quarter 1 was 25,211 households (13,239 in Quarter 1 and 11,972 in Quarter 2), while the achieved sample size for the questions detailing individual ICT usage was 1,155.

Derivation of Results

To provide national population results, the survey results were weighted to represent the entire population of persons aged 16 years and over. The survey results were weighted to agree with population estimates broken down by age group, sex and region and were also calibrated to nationality totals.

Household weights were calculated for all households in the initial sample. The design weights are computed as the inverse of the selection probability of the unit. The purpose of design weights is to eliminate the bias induced by unequal selection probabilities.

These design weights were then adjusted for non-response. This eliminated the bias introduced by discrepancies caused by non-response, particularly critical when the non-responding households are different from the responding ones in respect to some survey variables as this may create substantial bias in the estimates. Design weights are adjusted for non-response by dividing the design weights of each responding unit in the final/achieved sample by the (weighted) response probability of the corresponding group or strata.

To obtain the final household weights for the results, after the previous steps were carried out, the distribution of households by deprivation, NUTS3 region, sex and age was calibrated to the population of households in Quarters 1 and 2. The CALMAR2-macro, developed by INSEE, was used for this purpose.

In Quarter 2, there was a lower response to both the headline indicator questions (asked of all waves) and the questions on individual ICT usage which were asked of wave 5 participants only, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact in general on data collection. A new module on the ‘Employment and Life Effects of COVID-19’ was also included in the LFS in Quarter 2 to provide early indicators of changes to work/employment, emotional well-being, effect on finances, and the impact on families. Item non-response for some ICT usage variables, particularly towards the end of the questionnaire (due in part to the length of the questionnaire), required imputation for a limited number of observations.

Note on Tables

The sum of row or column percentages in the tables in this report may not add to 100% due to rounding.

Percentage breakdowns exclude cases where the interviewee did not respond.

Reliability of Estimates Presented

Estimates for number of persons where there are less than 30 persons in a cell are too small to be considered reliable. These estimates are presented with an asterisk (*) in the relevant tables.

Where there are 30-49 persons in a cell, estimates are considered to have a wider margin of error and should be treated with caution. These cells are presented with parentheses [ ] .

In the case of rates, these limits apply to the denominator used in generating the rate. In the case of annual changes, both the current year and the preceding year are taken into account when deciding whether the estimate should be suppressed or flagged as having a wider margin of error.

Classifications Used

Principal Economic Status

The Principal Economic Status (PES) classification is based on a single question in which respondents are asked what is their usual situation regarding employment and given the following response categories:

  • At work
  • Unemployed
  • Student
  • Engaged on home duties
  • Retired
  • Other

Deprivation Index

The Pobal Haase-Pratschke Deprivation Index is used to create the underlying sample and is used to analyse the data. The Index uses Census data to measure levels of disadvantage or affluence in a geographical area.

The results are presented by quintiles, five equal-sized groups of households, with the first quintile representing the most disadvantaged areas and the fifth quintile representing the least deprived/most affluent area.   More detailed information on the Index can be found on the Trutz-Haase website.

The five quintiles are described below:

  • First Quintile - Very disadvantaged
  • Second Quintile - Disadvantaged
  • Third Quintile - Average
  • Fourth Quintile - Affluent
  • Fifth Quintile - Very affluent (least deprived)

Household composition

For the purposes of deriving household composition, a child was defined as any member of the household aged 17 or under.  Households were analysed as a whole, regardless of the number of family units within the household.  The categories of household composition are:

  • 1 adult aged 18+ with no dependent children
  • 2 adults aged 18+ with no dependent children
  • 3 adults or more aged 18+ with no dependent children
  • 1 adult aged 18+ with dependent children aged <18
  • 2 adults aged 18+ with dependent children aged <18
  • 3 adults or more aged 18+ with dependent children aged <18

Region

The regional classifications in this release is based on the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units) classification used by Eurostat. Until Q4 2017, the NUTS3 regions corresponded to the eight Regional Authorities established under the Local Government Act, 1991 (Regional Authorities) (Establishment) Order, 1993, which came into operation on 1 January 1994 while the NUTS2 regions, which were proposed by Government and agreed by Eurostat in 1999, were groupings of those historic NUTS3 regions.

However, the NUTS3 boundaries were amended on 21st of November 2016 under Regulation (EC) No. 2066/2016 and have come into force from Q1 2018. These new groupings are reflected in the LFS results from Q1 2012 onwards. The changes resulting from the amendment are that County Louth has moved from the Border to the Mid-East and what was formerly South Tipperary has moved from the South-East to the Mid-West, resulting in the new NUTS2 and NUTS3 regions:

NUTS2 Code NUTS 2 Name NUTS3 Code NUTS 3 Name County 
IE04 Northern & Western IE041 Border Donegal
Sligo
Leitrim
Cavan
Monaghan
IE042 West Galway
Mayo
Roscommon
IE05 Southern IE051 Mid-west Clare
Tipperary
Limerick
IE052 South East Waterford
Kilkenny
Carlow
Wexford
IE053 South-West Cork
Kerry
IE06 Eastern & Midland  IE061 Dublin Dublin
IE062 Mid-East Wicklow
Kildare
Meath
Louth
IE063 Midlands Longford
Westmeath
Offaly
Laois


Acknowledgement

The Central Statistics Office wishes to thank the participating households for their co-operation in agreeing to take part in the survey and for facilitating the collection of the relevant data. 

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