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Background Notes

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Purpose of Survey

The purpose of the Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey is to collect information on how people in Ireland balance their work and their personal lives.  Data collected in the survey included aspects such as job satisfaction, the availability of flexible working arrangements, and paid and unpaid leave. The survey also covered questions on life satisfaction and work-life balance. While the survey focussed primarily on persons in employment, it also looked at barriers to work for persons not currently in employment.

The survey was carried out for the first time in Quarter 3 (July to September) 2021. The ‘Personal and Work Life Balance’ Survey is a voluntary survey carried out by the Central Statistics Office under Section 24 of the Statistics Act,1993.

Survey Design

The Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey was carried out as part of the General Household survey (GHS) in Quarter 3 2021.  The GHS is a national survey that place takes place three or four times each year. The survey usually has a core of common demographic questions that are always asked (e.g., age, sex, nationality, etc.). Each survey also has a specific theme and all of the topics covered in the GHS so far are detailed in the table below.

2017 Q3 & Q4 Adult Education Survey
2018 Q1 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Cross Border Shopping
  Q2 Household Financial Consumption Survey (HFCS)
  Q3 Household Financial Consumption Survey (HFCS)
  Q4 Household Financial Consumption Survey (HFCS)
2019 Q1 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Equality and Discrimination Survey
  Q2 European Health Interview Survey
2021 Q3 Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey

You can find more information here: General Household Survey

Survey Questionnaire

The survey questionnaire for the Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey was developed in collaboration with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE). The questionnaire developed was an online (CAWI mode) questionnaire. A copy of the final questionnaire is available here PWLB Questionnaire (PDF 301KB)

Data Collection

The survey data collection was multi-modal. The data collection process was divided into two stages. The first stage was conducted using a team of face-to-face interviewers using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI data collection mode). Interviewers were provided with a map of each of their interview areas as well as a listing of the address of each of the selected households. These interviewers also working on CSO surveys such as the Survey on Income and Living Conditions and the Labour Force Survey. The interviewers did a short face-to-face (CAPI) interview at the selected household. They collected limited demographic information (name, sex, and age of each person in the household) to allow for a person to be randomly selected form the household to complete the main survey. A copy of this short ‘quick count’ questionnaire is available here PWLB Quick Count (PDF 137KB)

The randomly selected person could complete the survey online (CAWI mode) or they could choose to do so by telephone interview (CATI mode). The interviewer collected email and telephone contact details for this randomly selected person. If the person chose to complete the survey online, they were sent an email with all details pertaining to the online survey. If they chose to do a telephone interview instead, the interviewer made an appointment with the randomly selected household member to conduct the telephone interview at a time that was suitable to them.

Reference Period

The Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey was carried out in the three months from July to September (Quarter 3) in 2021.

Survey Coverage

The questionnaire asked questions about job satisfaction, availability of flexible work practices, and various types of paid and unpaid leave at work, and barriers that get in the way of taking leave. The survey focusses largely on persons in employment. This includes persons who may have been laid off or temporarily laid off due to COVID and are now back at work on a part-time or full-time basis.

However, the survey also asked questions on life satisfaction of all respondents, and work-life balance for those in employment, and the type of support networks available from family, friends, and community. While the survey focussed primarily on persons in employment, it also looked at barriers to work for persons not currently in employment.

The Personal and Work-Life Balance 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.

One person from each household selected was randomly chosen to participate in the Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey. Information was collected directly from respondents and proxy responses from other members of the household were not accepted.  

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:

(i) Lives regularly at the dwelling in question, and

(ii) Shares the main living accommodation (i.e., kitchen, living room or bathroom) with the other members of the household.

Sample Design

The sample for the General Household Survey (GHS) is stratified using administrative county and the Pombal HP (Haase and Pratschke) Deprivation Index (quintile). A two-stage sample design is used. In the first stage 1,300 blocks are selected using Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) sampling. In the second stage households are selected using Simple Random Sampling (SRS). This ensures each household in the sample frame has an equal probability of selection.

The total selected sample size for the Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey was 9,600 households. However, only 9,146 were distributed in the field due to coverage issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The achieved sample size was 3,060 individuals.

The survey results were weighted to agree with population estimates broken down by age, sex and region and are also calibrated to nationality totals.

Derivation of Results

To provide national population results, the survey results were weighted to represent the entire population of persons 18 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 Quarter 3 2021 (as derived from the LFS Survey). The CALMAR2-macro, developed by INSEE, was used for this purpose.

Statistical Significance

All estimates based on sample surveys are subject to error, some of which is measurable. Where an estimate is statistically significantly different from another estimate it means that we can be 95% confident that differences between those two estimates are not due to sampling error.

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 [].

Note on Tables

The sum of row or column percentages in the tables in this report may not add to 100.0% due to rounding. Percentage breakdowns exclude cases where the interviewee did not respond.

Usual Residence and De Facto Population Concepts

Up to and including Q1 2006 the annual population estimates were calculated using the defacto definition of population (i.e. all persons present in the State). Since Q2 2006 a new concept of usual residence has been used, i.e., all persons usually resident and present in the state plus absent persons who are usually resident in Ireland but are temporarily away from home and outside the State.


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, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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