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Background Notes

A CSO Frontier Series Output- What is this?

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An online questionnaire for the Pulse Survey 'Our Lives Outdoors' was conducted by the CSO from Friday 22nd of April to Monday 9th of May 2022. The questionnaire was open to anyone aged 18 years and over who was living in the Republic of Ireland. As part of the CSO ‘Take Part’ Campaign the online Pulse Survey electronic questionnaire was available on the website and on all CSO social media platforms. There were 9,346 responses.

The questionnaire aimed at exploring the relationships that people have with the outdoor and natural spaces surrounding them in Ireland. It covered four different topics:

  • Respondent demographics
  • Time spent and activities undertaken outdoors and in natural spaces
  • Concerns and involvement in the protection of the environment
  • Time spent and activities undertaken in gardens

The results in the 'Pulse Survey April-May 2022 - Our Lives Outdoors: Snapshot of Results' publication reflect only the responses of those who completed the Pulse Survey questionnaire. While results are calibrated to Irish population totals, the findings cannot be generalised to the entire Irish population, as the people who answered the questionnaire were not chosen at random from the population. Outdoor activities are dependent on weather conditions. Some of the results presented in this publication will reflect this seasonal dependency. Even with these caveats however, we hope that this report provides a valuable insight into our lives outdoors in Ireland.

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Sample selection is not applicable as responding to this online Pulse Survey was voluntary for anyone aged 18 years and older and living in Ireland.

Data Collection

Data collection for this reference period: from the 22nd of April to the 9th of May 2022.

Responding to this survey was voluntary.

Data was collected directly from survey respondents through the Pulse Survey online electronic questionnaire.

Error detection

Each variable was assessed by the CSO to identify implausible submissions.

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The CSO is prohibited, under the Statistics Act, 1993, from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

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Respondents were asked for information relating to their demographic characteristics as well as the subject matter of the survey. Characteristics included: sex, age, county of residence, degree of urbanisation of their living surroundings, principal economic status, highest level of education completed, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Demographic characteristics were used to calibrate the data (see following section Benchmarking Calibration), and were not investigated in this publication but may be in further analyses. See below for descriptions of each characteristic.

Sex: Female or male

Age: The respondents were asked their age

NUTS3 Regions: NUTS3 regions are derived from respondents' county of residence.

These regions are comprised as follows:

Table 6.1 - NUTS2 and NUTS3 regions
 Northern & Western NUTS2 RegionSouthern NUTS2 RegionEastern & Midland NUTS2 Region
Border Cavan
Mid-West Clare
Dublin Dublin City
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
South Dublin
South-East Carlow
Mid-East Kildare
West Galway
South-West Cork
Midland Laois

Principal economic status: Respondents were asked which of the following best represents their situation.

  • Full-time employed
  • Part-time employed
  • Unemployed
  • Retired
  • Unable to work due to longstanding health problems
  • Student, pupil
  • Fulfilling domestic tasks
  • Other

Highest level of education completed: Respondents were asked to select the highest level of education or training they have ever successfully completed from the following options:

  • No formal education or training
  • Primary education (NFQ levels 1 or 2)
  • Lower secondary (NFQ level 3 - Junior / Inter / Group Certificate)
  • Upper secondary (NFQ levels 4 or 5 - Leaving Certificate)
  • Technical or Vocational (NFQ levels 4 or 5)
  • Advanced Certificate or Completed Apprenticeship (NFQ level 6)
  • Higher Certificate (NFQ level 6)
  • Ordinary Bachelor Degree or Higher Diploma (NFQ level 7)
  • Honours Bachelor Degree / Professional qualification or both (NFQ level 8)
  • Postgraduate Diploma or Master's Degree (NFQ level 9)
  • Doctorate (Ph.D.) or higher (NFQ level 10)
  • Other

Sexual orientation: This was a voluntary question in which respondents were asked to select the option that best describes their sexual orientation from:

Heterosexual or straight, Gay or lesbian, Bisexual, Other sexual orientation, or Prefer not to say

Gender identity: This was a voluntary question in which respondents were asked if the gender they identify with is the same as their sex registered at birth. If they answered 'No' they were asked to describe their gender identity.

Degree of urbanisation: Respondents were asked which of the following best represents the area in which they live:

  • Urban area 
  • Small town or village
  • Rural area (countryside)
  • Other

 Number of persons living in the household: Respondents were asked how many persons were living in their household.

 Number of children under 18 in the household: Respondents were asked how many children under 18 were living in their household.

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The following process was used to counteract some of the potential bias within the survey respondents, and to make the final calibrated distribution of respondents as representative as possible of the population.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) Q4 2021 population estimates (the most recently-available estimates at the time of analysis) were used to benchmark the Pulse dataset across key characteristics for calibration. The individual weights were inflated to match overall population total and then calibrated using CALMAR calibration adjustment program to ensure that benchmarked respondent totals matched the LFS Q4 2021 benchmark totals for a number of key characteristics including sex, age, region, principal economic status, and education level.

Benchmarking calibration has been used to adjust to key population totals to match current population distributions with respondent distributions. However, given the voluntary nature of the data collection tool and the non-random nature of respondents, it is unlikely that we can fully account for bias inherent in the data.  For this reason, caution should be taken when attempting to make inferences to the entire population from these results.

Population distributions from LFS Q4 2021 were compared with the respondent distributions across key characteristics (i.e. sex, age, region, principal economic status, and education level) both before and after weighting in Table 6.2:

Table 6.2 - 'Our Lives Outdoors' Pulse survey distributions before and after benchmark calibration with LFS Q4 2021
  Pulse Survey - Distribution of Respondents Pulse Survey - Calibrated Distribution LFS Q4 2021
State 100% 100% 100%
Female 73.0%  51.1%    51.1%  
Male 27.0%  48.9%    48.9%  
Age Group      
18 to 34 11.0%   27.3% 27.3% 
35 to 44 15.6%  20.2%  20.2% 
45 to 54 23.7%  18.1%  18.1% 
55 to 69 39.1%  20.8%  20.8% 
70+ 10.6%  13.6%  13.6% 
NUTS3 Regions      
Border 5.3%  8.1%  8.1% 
West 7.1%  9.5%  9.5% 
Mid-West 6.9%  9.8%  9.8% 
South-East 9.2%  8.7%  8.7% 
South-West 17.1%  14.5%  14.5% 
Dublin 35.1%  29.1%  29.1% 
Mid-East 15.1%  14.4%  14.4% 
Midlands 4.2%  5.9%  5.9% 
Principal economic status      
Working for payment 61.5%  59.7%  59.7% 
Unemployed 1.5%  4.3%  4.3% 
Retired 25.1%  16.2%  16.2% 
Unable to work due to longstanding health problems 3.4%  4.9%  4.9% 
Student or pupil 1.9%  7.0%  7.0% 
Fulfilling domestic tasks 4.1%  5.9%  5.9% 
Other 2.5%  2.0%  2.0% 
Highest education level completed      
NFQ level 3 or lower 3.6%  18.4%  18.4% 
NFQ level 4 or 5 15.8%  29.1%  29.1% 
NFQ level 6 or 7 23.6%  18.0%  18.0% 
NFQ level 8 or above 56.4%  37.8%  37.8% 
Other 0.6%  2.7%  2.7%