Changes to Publication of Living Conditions Survey

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wesley Hughes, has said that as a cost saving measure, beginning this year, only the consumption component of the Survey of Living Conditions (SLC) would be published every year along with special modules that give some indication of the level of poverty.
Dr. Hughes, who was speaking at the launch of the SLC for 2002 recently at his New Kingston offices, explained that because the other indicators such as education, health and housing had not shown a dramatic change over the last 14 years, these would be published biennially instead of every year as was now the case. “So, while there are fluctuations in some of the sub-indicators of the other indicators, these (education, health and housing) show a steady trend and as a cost saving measure, we have taken a decision to not do the survey in full every year,” he said.
He divulged that separate from the poverty index, a special living conditions index for 2003 was being prepared.
The Director General took the opportunity to also explain that the survey had been published later than usual to allow for quality checks to be conducted following the preliminary analysis, to ensure that the findings were indeed accurate. “There were significant changes at the parish level and as we did in 1997, when there was a significant improvement in the rate of poverty, we thought that the change was so significant that as professionals, we felt a duty to have a look again at the data,” Dr. Hughes said.
Meanwhile, Director General of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Sonia Jackson informed that the survey instrument used was similar to that used in previous years, which was a multi-topic household questionnaire administered by the staff of STATIN. The basic structure of the questionnaire, she said, had been retained to facilitate trend analysis, which was very important for research and monitoring policies.
She also explained that the questionnaire was larger than usual and the sample frame had been expanded to facilitate data analysis at the parish level. For this survey, a frame consisted of 9,656 dwellings, compared to 7,648 in the previous year. A sample of 7,000 households was eventually used for the survey.
“The information compiled in the SLC reports are used very widely as the instrument facilitate the monitoring of the programmes and policies of the government.we consider this report to be an important element in our efforts to provide indicators to our many stakeholders. The report is a storehouse of information,” she stated.
The SLC, a joint activity between the PIOJ and STATIN, is an adaptation of the World Bank’s living standard measurement survey and “Jamaica has been doing it for a longer period than any other country in the world,” Director of the Social Manpower Planning Division, PIOJ, Pauline Knight told the gathering.
It is now a fixed feature of the socio-economic landscape in Jamaica and is used extensively by researchers locally and abroad. The survey includes standard modules on consumption, demography, health, education, welfare and housing. In addition, special modules were added for different years. A key output of the survey is the monitoring of poverty levels in Jamaica.

JIS Social