Northern Irish Continuous Household Survey (CHS)


Main uses

CHS is the general household survey for Northern Ireland, whereas some of the other household surveys, such as the General Lifestyle Survey, do not cover Northern Ireland.  It has also been going for many years, unlike the Family Resources Survey which was only extended to Northern Ireland in 2002/03.  Its disadvantages are that it is only a small survey and is much less sophisticated (e.g. in terms of weighting) than most of the major surveys.  It possible uses are therefore twofold:

  • When time trend data for Northern Ireland is required (e.g. re lacking consumer durables).
  • When there is no UK-wide survey with the required data (e.g. overcrowding).

CHS is the Northern Irish equivalent to the English Housing SurveyScottish Household Survey and National Survey for Wales.


In summary:

  • Available from: UK data archive.
  • Registration required: yes.
  • First survey available: 1983.
  • Frequency: annual.
  • Updated: October.
  • Scope: Northern Ireland only.
  • Format: SPSS, STATA or TAB.
  • Files: around 15 files per year, one at the household level and the rest at the individual level.  The various individual-level files are organised by subject (health, education, etc).
  • Documentation: limited to the questionnaire itself.
  • Weighted or unweighted: unweighted.
  • Household income data: yes but unequivalised and in ranges only.  Note that, although the income file is an individual-level file, only one record for each household actually has any income data and this relates to total household income rather than individual income.

General issues

Which software to use

As the annual dataset is around 5,000 records for individuals and 2,500 records for households, it can be exported into Excel.

When to use the individual and household datasets

Use the household dataset when the desired analysis relates to households.

When the desired analysis relates to individuals use either the individual datasets and/or the household dataset depending on which has the variables that are required.  If the required variables are in the household dataset then the analysis can be undertaken in either of two ways:

  • by linking the two datasets together using the case id as the key; or
  • by using the household dataset but multiplying the results by the number of people in the household.

If the required variables cover from more one of the individual datasets, these can be linked using a combination of the case id and the person number.

Relevant graphs on this website

Northern Irish graphs

Indicator Graphs Table Comments
Lacking consumer durables all household and income Exclude all the records in the income table which have a null entry as the household income question is actually only asked of the HRPs.
Overcrowding first two household For the individual-level analysis, multiply the household weight by the number of people in the household.

For those analyses which are by household income, allocate each household income group to a household income quintile, ensuring that the five income quintiles are of as similar a size as possible.