General Social Survey (GSS)

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Series Description


General Social Survey (GSS)

Alternate Title



Stats NZ


The General Social Survey (GSS), formerly the New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS), is part of a suite of integrated household surveys run by Stats NZ. It is conducted under the Programme of Official Social Statistics. The GSS provides a cross-domain perspective of social wellbeing for the population of New Zealand. As such, it provides a basis for cross-domain analysis, not possible with other more narrowly focused surveys. It is also a basis for coherent monitoring of some key aspects of social wellbeing over time.


The GSS produces statistics about social wellbeing to inform decision-making by government agencies and the wider community. Data gathered includes objective information about circumstance, such as labour force status and income, as well as a personal assessment of different aspects of New Zealander's lives, such as life satisfaction, health, housing, human rights, and relationships. In particular, the survey provides a view of how wellbeing outcomes vary across different groups within the population.

  1. Two-yearly
Usage and limitations of the data

The GSS is run every two years. The data collected will be used to develop future iterations of the survey and for time series monitoring. Future use of each GSS dataset would be high for the first two years after first release. This is likely to drop down to medium after that.

Significant events impacting this study series

Data Collection Disruption 2020-2021:

Due to the first nationwide Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in March 2020, face-to-face interviewing for the GSS 2020 data collection (due to begin in April 2020, and end in March 2021) was delayed by a full year (until April 2021), following consultation with stakeholders.

Data collection for GSS 2021 (formerly GSS 2020), began on 1 April 2021. However, a second nationwide lockdown began in August 2021, during the Delta variant outbreak, suspending face-to-face interviewing for a second time. Collection stopped on 17 August, meaning the collection period for GSS 2021 was around four and a half months. This meant the sample size for GSS 2021 was significantly smaller than for previous collections.

Data Collection Disruption 2011:

After the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011, interviewers were unable to work in certain parts of the Canterbury area. This led to a lower number of completed cases for February and March in the Canterbury area. The weights used for the survey have controlled for the loss of cases. The September 2010 earthquake in Christchurch did not affect data collection.

Main users of the data

Government departments, researchers, regional and local councils, community organisations and the wider public.


General Social Survey 2021 Questionnaire - Flowcharts


General Social Survey 2018 Questionnaire - Flowcharts


General Social Survey 2016 Questionnaire


General Social Survey 2014 Questionnaire


General Social Survey 2012 Questionnaire


General Social Survey 2010 Questionnaire


General Social Survey 2008 Questionnaire

Recent releases

Wellbeing Statistics: 2018

Recent releases

Stats NZ - Wellbeing (topic)

Recent releases

Housing in Aotearoa: 2020

Recent releases

The state of housing in Aotearoa New Zealand (December 2020)

Recent releases

Stats NZ - Housing (topic)

Past releases

Perceptions of housing quality in 2014/15 | Stats NZ

Past releases

Loneliness in New Zealand: Findings for the 2010 NZ General Social Survey (April 2013)

Past releases

Vulnerable children and families: Some findings from the New Zealand General Social Survey (October 2012)

Past releases

Working together: Racial discrimination in New Zealand (September 2012)

Past releases

How prepared are New Zealanders for a natural disaster? (June 2012)

Past releases

Parents supporting children who do not live with them (March 2012)

Past releases

General Social Survey 2008 Fact Sheet: Natural disaster preparation at home


Social Cohesion in New Zealand: Facts from the NZ General Social Survey 2008 (June 2011)

Other useful links

Social well-being in New Zealand: Interactive tool

Other useful links

Social well-being in New Zealand in 2014: Poster and brochure

NZ.Stat Tables

NZ.Stat Tables

Some of our data is available in tables from earlier iterations of the GSS (2014 and earlier). From the left navigation column on the NZ.Stat main page, choose “People and Communities”, then view GSS tables by:

• Gender

• Housing

• Civic Participation

• Migrants

• Region

Archived Information

Archived Information

Archived items such as below may be accessed via the Stats NZ archive help page

High charts 2008, 2010, 2012:

o Regional comparisons of people's perceptions of their life and well-being

First Release Report and standard tables:

o General Social Survey 2012: First release and 2012 tables

o General Social Survey 2010: First Release and 2010 tables

o General Social Survey 2008: Hot Off the Press and 2008 tables

Fact Sheets:

o Social Cohesion in New Zealand: Facts from the General Social Survey 2008 (June 2011)

o Volunteering Fact Sheet: General Social Survey (October 2009)

Media releases:

o New Zealand households unprepared for natural disasters - media release (March 2010)



Overall life satisfaction, Civic and human rights, Culture and identity, Housing, Knowledge and skills, Leisure and recreation, Material standard of living, Paid work, Physical environment, Safety and security, Self-assessed health, Social connectedness, Disability, Subjective wellbeing
2008 -

Extra Metadata