July 28th, 2012, Published in Articles: PositionIT

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) has just completed its second “Quality of Life” survey, with a massive sample of almost 17 000 respondents. This follows the first survey in 2009, and thus allows some sense of change over time. Quality of Life itself – calculated using 52 variables covering everything from security to headspace, health to employment, values to community participation – shows a small but important increase in the mean (the average score) from 6,24 in 2009 to 6,25 in 2011.

The survey covered a wide range of issues, including access to and satisfaction with services, the economy, migration, mobility, transport, employment, education, values and attitudes, green behaviour and sustainability, decent work and many other issues. More reports will emerge from GCRO over the next few months dealing with these and other issues. For example, only two-thirds of respondents were born in Gauteng – and of the “migrant” population making up the reminder, the vast majority are from other parts of South Africa. The need to re-think social stereotypes of “foreigners” is obvious in a city-region of migrants.

The GCRO is a partnership between the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, the Gauteng Provincial Government and organised local government in Gauteng. The GCRO’s bi-annual “Quality of Life” survey tracks economic, political, socio-economic and other dynamics of the Gauteng city-region (GCR), which includes the whole of Gauteng and key outliers (such as Rustenburg and Sasolburg). This key region contributes 43% to national GDP and is the beating heart of the national and regional economy.

Speaking at the release of the survey results, Prof. David Everatt, the Executive Director of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) said that Gauteng had fared extremely well during the last two years of global economic recession, and that overall quality of life had risen very slightly to 6,25 (out of 10) for the province as a whole.

“The driver has been government delivery – particularly in meeting basic needs and a perception among respondents that crime levels have dropped – but the scores were pulled down by growing cynicism about politicians, concerns about corruption, massive levels of unemployment, and on-going psycho-social challenges such as racism, xenophobia, conservative attitudes to gender equality and the like,” said Everatt.

The 2011 Quality of Life Survey process

In June 2011, GCRO ran a highly competitive tender process and awarded the fieldwork contract for the second Quality of Life survey to DataWorld. In July, GCRO finalised the design of a revised questionnaire that balanced time-series data from the 2009 QoL survey with new data informing the projects in GCRO’s 3-year Strategic Framework. GCRO also guided the sample frame construction and drawing the sample for the survey, as well as fieldwork training and other preparatory work for the fieldwork which started in mid-August 2011. A separate company was hired to undertake back-checking to ensure quality, and back-check teams were in field throughout the fieldwork process.

The contract with DataWorld initially provided for a sample of 15 000 respondents to be surveyed, and it was intended that this be completed by September. However, the sample proved too large for fieldwork to be completed before Census 2011 and fieldwork continued until December with 16 729 successful interviews. The much higher sample over 2009 was enabled by the use of new technology (digital pens), that allow for both the geocoding of respondents where they were enumerated, as well as the automatic upload of data to a central database, cutting out the need for the laborious data-punching process. 

The 2011 wards were used as the primary sampling units, with 507 out of a possible 508 wards sampled in Gauteng – the exception being a ward in Midvaal where access was impossible. This ward has no respondents whatsoever – after over 80 attempts to get access to gated communities (with attendant domestic work facilities), with fieldworkers (of all races) escorted out at gun-point, we simply gave up. Elsewhere, some mine-managers for example continued to act as if they ruled fiefdoms, telling us when and who we could talk to – or more commonly, not talk to – making random sampling impossible. Again, this led to substitution.

The final cleaned dataset, banner books (which provide cross-tabulations of questions, demographics and municipalities) and reports on the sampling, fieldwork and weighting approach were delivered by the end of February 2012.

The formal launch of the 2011 Quality of Life Survey was held on 23 July 2012. at the University of the Witwatersrand and responses to the findings and analysis were given by the Premier of Guateng Nomvula Mokonyane as well as Prof. Adam Habib, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Johannesburg. An overview of the results can be viewed on the GCRO website: www.gcro.ac.za.

Contact Prof. David Everatt, GCRO, Tel 011 717-7289, david.everatt@gcro.ac.za

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