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Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 1998 - Religious Observance Module




Dowds, L., Devine, P., Gray, A. M., Heenan, D., & Robinson, G. (2020, February 4). Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 1998 - Religious Observance Module


The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey was launched in the autumn of 1998. Its mission has been to monitor the attitudes and behaviour of people in Northern Ireland during the late 1990s and into the present century, in order to provide a time-series and a public record of how our attitudes and behaviour develop on a wide range of social policy issues. The survey is run on a modular format. Two modules are repeated every year (Political Attitudes and Community Relations), and the rest of the survey varies annually with all the modules designed to be repeated in years to come.

Each year, more than 30 countries participate in the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) in which the same module of questions is asked cross-nationally. Northern Ireland has taken part in this exercise (via NISA) since 1989. The 1998 module covered religion. Full ISSP datasets can be obtained from the Zentralarchiv in Koln, Germany, where the datasets from the member countries are assembled.

The ARDA has added six additional variables to the original data set to enhance the users' experience on our site.

Data File

Cases: 812
Variables: 79
Weight Variable: WTFACTOR

Please note that all analyses of the data should be weighted in order to allow for disproportionate household size. The weighting variable is called WTFACTOR.

Data Collection

October 5 to December 31, 1998

Funded By

Save the Children Fund, Central Community Relations Unit; Northern Ireland Housing Executive; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; DHSS; and the University of Ulster.

Collection Procedures

Face-to-face interviews were conducted with individuals at least 18 years old or older. The main interview was carried out using computer-assisted interviewing and the respondent was then asked to fill out a self-completion form. All interviews were conducted in the respondent's home. Interviewers made up to a maximum of five calls before the person identified in the sample was deemed unreachable. The average length of time taken to complete interviews was 40 minutes. The self-completion form was either collected by the interviewer at the time of the main interview, or at a later date.

Households identified in the sample were sent an advance letter explaining the background to the survey and the method by which an individual respondent would be selected from the household. Cooperation with the project was requested in this letter. The advance letter also confirmed that a donation of one pound would be made to Action Cancer on behalf of each respondent. A letter from Action Cancer was also enclosed, confirming the arrangement between Action Cancer and the research team. The letter explained positive ways in which the donations would be used.

Sampling Procedures

The survey was designed to yield a representative sample of men and women living in Northern Ireland at least 18 years old or older. The Postal Address File (PAF) was used as the sampling frame for the survey. The first stage in the sampling process was to stratify Northern Ireland into three geographic strata based on an amalgamation of Local Government Districts, namely Belfast, East of the Bann, and West of the Bann. This was done to ensure the adequate representation of areas of lower population density and is standard practice in Northern Ireland social surveys. Within each of the three strata, the sample size was set to reflect the proportion of the adult population residing there as of the 1991 census. Within each stratum addresses were selected on a simple random-sample basis. At selected addresses, a KISH grid procedure was utilised to randomly select one individual to be the subject of the survey.

Each stratum was oversampled to provide reserve addresses. Interviewers were instructed to make a total of five calls, or have received a refusal or other information confirming that an interview would not be obtained, before being issued with reserve addresses. This was to ensure optimal response from the main sample.

Principal Investigators

Paula Devine
Lizanne Dowds
Ann Marie Gray
Deirdre Heenan
Gillian Robinson

Related Publications

For more information go to

Note 1: Voluntary Activity coding

The variables VOLACT1, VOLACT2, VOLACT3, and VOLACT4 measure voluntary activity done in the past 12 months. Voluntary activity is defined here as unpaid work, not just belonging to an organisation or group. It should be of service or benefit to other people or the community and not only to one's family or personal friends.

If the same voluntary activity fell into two or more of the categories measured by these four variables, the activity was coded under the first relevant category. For example, if a respondent was involved in political campaigning for a candidate endorsed by a church or religious group, that voluntary activity was measured on the variable VOLACT1 (political activities) rather than the variable VOLACT3 (religious and church-related activities).

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