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CSO Pulse Surveys are a new way to make your story part of Ireland's story.

We want to hear what you think on topical issues #CSOTakePart

What types of questions will be on the Central Statistics Office (CSO) Pulse Surveys?

The CSO Pulse Surveys are short and easy to complete and mainly focus on finding out more about topical social issues and well-being. Questions on age, employment status, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and ethnicity will be added to different surveys at different times. Pulse Surveys are used to help paint a social image of groups (for example age groups) that have similar ideas about the topics we’re exploring.

Questions in a Pulse Survey are divided into blocks or sections.  The first section is a demographic block, which asks you for details such as your age and employment status.  These questions give us more information about the other blocks or sections when we are analysing the data i.e., we can look at the data by age, by region, or by sex. This first block of questions makes the data that we collect on the subject richer.

Why is the CSO asking questions about things like age, employment status, gender identity and sexual orientation?

The CSO collects data about many aspects of Irish people’s lives to provide information for government, other agencies, businesses, and communities to help them make informed decisions, allocate resources, and plan for the future.

The CSO collects data on socio-demographic characteristics such as age, employment status, gender identity, ethnicity, and sexual orientation to better understand society’s diversity and to inform decision-makers. We know that individuals and community groups have a strong interest in seeing data that better reflects who they are and the data collected from the questions we ask helps this.

At the same time however, we need to make sure that any data we collect is of high quality, so we are including different types of questions in each Pulse Survey as an opportunity to find the right approach to collecting various pieces of information for the future. We will be asking people for their feedback on how some questions are phrased before we include it in our typical household surveys or any future censuses. Pulse Surveys are aimed at those aged 18 years and over and all information given to the CSO is treated as strictly confidential and is only used for statistical purposes.

Age

Why do you ask someone’s age?

The CSO needs to collect information about the age of our survey respondents so we can publish meaningful results for all the topics we’re exploring. By including socio-demographic questions like, age, etc. we have better data that can inform decision-makers where services and resources need to be allocated based on, in this case, the age of the respondent.  We ask age in almost every CSO survey.

Can I do the survey without filling this in?

We would encourage each respondent to answer this question by entering the numeric value of their age into the number box provided. This is a mandatory question in the survey; therefore, you will not be able to move onto the next question until you have entered an answer. The CSO Pulse Survey is aimed at respondents aged 18 years and over.

Gender Identity

What do we mean when we ask people to tell us their gender identity?

Gender identity will not be asked in every CSO Pulse Survey. If this question does feature on the survey, when we talk about gender identity it refers to a person’s deeply felt identification as a woman, man, or another/no gender. This may or may not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth.

Growing numbers of people are identifying as somewhere along a gender spectrum between man and woman, or as non-gendered (neither man nor woman). This is a dynamic and changing area, with new terms regularly introduced and outdated terms being replaced.

On 15 July 2015, the Irish Government passed the Gender Recognition Act. Gender recognition legislation provides a process enabling trans people to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender and allows for the acquisition of a new birth certificate that reflects this change.

If asked a question on gender identity, how does it differ from the question of one’s sex?

A person’s sex is usually assigned at birth as male or female based on the biological aspects of an individual as determined by their anatomy (genitalia and/or reproductive organs) or biology (chromosomes and/or hormones).

Asking someone their sex is one of the core variables the CSO must collect in all household surveys which are covered by EU Regulation. Eurostat define the concept of “sex” as the “biological and physiological characteristics that define a person to be either male or female”. They do not allow “don’t know”, “refusal” or “other”.

What research and consultation has the CSO done so far in relation to the question on gender identity?

In 2017, the CSO held a public consultation on the content for the 2021 Census questionnaire.

As part of this process, the CSO established a Census Advisory Group (CAG) comprising data users and subject matter experts, to make recommendations on potential topics and questions.

During the engagement, the CAG considered the potential inclusion of a new question on gender identity and explored the challenges of framing a question on this topic. The Census is a self-completed questionnaire. It is difficult to create a question that captures gender identity in a simple question format for a self-completed questionnaire. Some members of the general public may not be familiar with the concept of gender identity and may be confused having earlier completed a question on their biological sex.

The CAG recommended that the CSO should first develop the introduction of questions on gender identity in its household surveys, prior to possible future inclusion of a related question in the Census.

Why did you phrase the question on gender identity in this way?

Looking at the experience of other countries and particularly the research conducted by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the United Kingdom (UK) on their addition of a gender question to surveys and its census, we have chosen to use these CSO Pulse Surveys as a method to find the right approach to collect this information in more formal surveys and our future censuses.

If this question features in a CSO Pulse Survey, we will seek  feedback on the phrasing and positioning of the questions to help us get it right and to ensure that any question we ask creates high quality data that can be used to inform decisions. This feedback section can be found at the end of the CSO Pulse Survey.

How should I answer this question on gender identity?

If a question on gender identity is part of the CSO Pulse Survey, you do not have to answer it. The voluntary element is reiterated on the survey. The CSO Pulse Survey is aimed at respondents aged 18 years and over.

On the CSO Pulse Survey you may be asked:
Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?
This question is voluntary

  • Yes
  • No
  • (Enter gender identity)

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation will not be asked in every CSO Pulse Survey. If this question does feature on the survey, when we talk about sexual orientation it refers to the ways in which a person’s sexuality is expressed, who they are attracted to and the terms they choose to identify with.

The question has been included in some CSO Pulse Surveys in advance of potentially introducing the question in Census 2027. The CSO also plans to ask questions on ethnicity and disability in future CSO Pulse Surveys.

What do we mean when we ask people to tell us their sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation is your sexual preference for people of the same or opposite sex, or to both sexes.

Sexual identity is the label that you might use to let others know who you are as a sexual being. Sexual identities include heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and asexual, among others.

How should I answer this question?

If a question on sexual orientation is part of the CSO Pulse Survey, you do not have to answer the question it. The voluntary element is reiterated on the survey. The CSO Pulse Survey is aimed at respondents aged 18 years and over.

On the CSO Pulse Survey you may be asked:
Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?
This question is voluntary

  • Straight or Heterosexual
  • Gay or Lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Other sexual orientation (Write in sexual orientation)
  • Prefer not to say

Why have you phrased the question on sexual orientation in this way?

As with other questions, we have looked at the experience of other countries and particularly the research conducted by the ONS in the UK on their addition of such questions to their surveys and census. We chose to introduce these questions in our CSO Pulse Surveys to find the right approach to collect this information in more formal surveys and our future censuses.

If this question features in a CSO Pulse Survey, we will seek  feedback on the phrasing and positioning of the questions to help us get it right and to ensure that any question we ask creates high quality data that can be used to inform decisions. This feedback section can be found at the end of the CSO Pulse Survey.

What research and consultation has the CSO done so far on sexual orientation?

A sexual orientation question was requested by several organisations as part of the public consultation process for the planned Census 2021. Census 2021 had to be postponed due to public health concerns around COVID-19 and took place in April 2022. As a result of the feedback from our public consultation process, it was decided at the Census Advisory Group (CAG) to develop a suitable question through the CSO’s social surveys which could ultimately be piloted for inclusion in future census after Census 2022.

The CSO has also attended International Census Forum (ICF) meetings where other English-speaking countries have given updates on their progress towards developing a census question on sexual orientation. We have also discussed the question bilaterally with the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) who introduced a sexual orientation question on their household surveys before ultimately deciding to include a question on their Census 2021.

Were these questions on gender identity and sexual orientation included in the Census 2022?

No, neither topic was included in Census 2022. However, the experience gained from asking these questions in CSO Pulse surveys will allow us to progress these types of questions for future censuses.

Writing census questions is complex and demands a great deal of expertise and testing to ensure the answers provide meaningful, high-quality data that can be used to inform decisions. Poorly worded census questions can be misinterpreted or cause confusion for people answering the form which in turn can lead to low quality data.

Survey Feedback

Will people be able to give their opinion on these new questions?

Your opinion matters to the CSO. The CSO wants feedback on the phrasing and positioning of these questions. There will be an opportunity at the end of the survey featuring these types of questions to tell us what you think.

We want your story to become part of the story – the story of Ireland.

Where will the CSO publish the findings of the CSO Pulse Surveys?

The CSO will publish the findings of the individual CSO Pulse Surveys on our website and on social media. Anyone who completes the survey will also be informed of the results by email if they choose to register their details.