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Background Notes

A CSO Frontier Series Output- What is this?

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Purpose of the Data Collection Initiative and Reference Period

An online questionnaire for the Pulse Survey Our Lives Online was conducted by the CSO from Tuesday 2 November to Tuesday 16 November 2021.  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 10,797 responses.

The questionnaire asked for information on the following topics:

  • respondent demographics
  • methods of access to the internet
  • shopping online
  • online social, fitness, dating and banking
  • remote work
  • online education

The results in Pulse Survey - Our Lives Online: 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. Even with this caveat however, we hope that this report provides a valuable insight into our lives online in Ireland.


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: 2 November to 16 November 2021

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.

Disclosure control

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.


The following process was devised 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 Q3 2021 Labour Force Survey (LFS) population estimates (the most recently-available estimates at the time of analysis) were used to benchmark the dataset across key characteristics for calibration. The individual weights were inflated to match overall population total and then calibrated using CALMAR to ensure that benchmarked respondent totals matched the Q3 2021 benchmark totals for a number of key characteristics such as sex, age, principal economic status, tenure and region.

Population distributions from LFS Q3 2021  were compared with the respondent distribution across key characteristics both before and after weighting (see table below).

Benchmarking calibration has been used to adjust to key population totals to try and 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. Further to this enforced change in the way CSO have been making initial contact with LFS sample households, due to COVID-19, has resulted in that survey capturing less persons who are in private rented accommodation and more of those in owner occupied accommodation and this is reflected in the estimates for the number of persons in these categories.

For these reasons, caution should be taken when attempting to make inferences to the entire population from these results.

  Pulse Survey - Distribution of Respondents Pulse Survey - Calibrated Distribution LFS Q3 2021
State 100% 100% 100%
Female 71.5% 51.1% 51.1%
Male 28.5% 48.9% 48.9%
Age Group      
18 to 34 22.1% 27.3% 27.3%
35 to 44 18.5% 20.3% 20.3%
45 to 54 20.0% 18.1% 18.1%
55 to 69 28.5% 20.8% 20.8%
70+ 10.9% 13.5% 13.5%
Principal Economic Status      
At work 62.0% 59.4% 59.4%
Unemployed 2.5% 4.8% 4.8%
Student 4.8% 6.5% 6.5%
Engaged on home duties 3.4% 6.1% 6.1%
Retired 22.4% 16.9% 16.9%
Unable to work due to longstanding health problems 2.7% 5.2% 5.2%
Other 2.2% 1.1% 1.1%
NUTS3 Regions      
Border 5.0% 8.1% 8.1%
West 7.5% 9.5% 9.5%
Mid-West 7.1% 9.8% 9.8%
South-East 7.4% 8.7% 8.7%
South-West 16.6% 14.4% 14.4%
Dublin 36.7% 29.2% 29.2%
Mid-East 15.3% 14.3% 14.3%
Midlands 4.3% 5.9% 5.9%
Owner-occupied 82.7% 80.2% 80.2%
Rented 17.3% 19.8% 19.8%

Data analysis

Respondents were asked for information relating to their demographic characteristics as well as the subject matter of the survey. Characteristics include: sex, age, county of residence, gender identity, sexual orientation, Principal Economic Status (PES), and general health status. 

Not all demographic characteristics are investigated in this publication but may be in further analyses. They include:

Sex: Female or male

Tenure Status: Owned outright,Owned with a mortgage, Rented, Rent free, Other type of housing situation (e.g. homeless, nursing home, direct provision) 

Principal Economic Status: Respondents were asked which of the following best represents their situation.

  • Full-time employed
  • Part-time employed
  • Unemployed or on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)
  • Retired
  • Unable to work due to longstanding health problems
  • Student, pupil
  • Fulfilling domestic tasks
  • Other

Highest level of education completed: This classification is derived from a single question in the Pulse Survey Our Lives Online. Respondents were asked what their highest level of education or training they have ever successfully completed from the following options:

  • No formal education or training
  • Primary education or equivalent
  • Junior Certificate or equivalent
  • Leaving Certificate or equivalent
  • Technical or Vocational (e.g. PLCs SOLAS/Fás certificate) or equivalent
  • Advanced Certificate - Craft/Higher Certificate or equivalent
  • Diploma or Ordinary Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 7) or equivalent
  • Honours Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 8) or equivalent
  • Masters Degree or Post-Graduate Diploma (NFQ Level 9)
  • Doctoral Degree (NFQ Level 10)

Self-perceived General Health Status: Respondents were asked how their health is in general from the following options: 

Very good; Good; Fair; Bad; or Very bad

Sexual Orientation: Respondents were asked the following question; Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation:

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

Gender Identity: Respondents were asked whether the the gender they identify with is the same as their sex registered at birth?

If they answer 'No' they were asked to describe their gender identity.

NUTS3 Regions

NUTS3 region are derived from respondents county of residence.

These regions are comprised as follows:

Northern & Western NUTS2 Region Southern NUTS2 Region Eastern & Midland NUTS2 Region
Border Cavan Mid-West Clare Dublin Dublin City
  Donegal   Limerick    Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
  Leitrim   Tipperary   Fingal
  Monaghan       South Dublin
    South-East Carlow Mid-East Kildare
West Galway   Kilkenny   Meath
  Mayo   Waterford    Wicklow
  Roscommon   Wexford   Louth
        Midland Laois
    South-West Cork    Longford
      Kerry   Offaly


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