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2015 National Youth Survey

Overview of Methods

Questionnaire

Before finalizing the questionnaire used in the NYS, the research team worked with Elections Canada to identify key areas of interest. The survey from the 2011 research served as the basis for the questionnaire in this wave. The final questionnaire included questions about:

  • electoral participation
  • political participation
  • civic participation
  • media consumption
  • general attitudes toward politics, democracy and citizenship
  • political socialization
  • civic education
  • political knowledge
  • socio-demographics

Survey Administration

The survey was timed to coincide with the completion of the 42nd general election, held on October 19, 2015. The questionnaire was designed so that it could be administered using different survey methods (telephone and online) and took, on average, 17 minutes to complete. Pre-testing was conducted on October 20, 2015. Following the pre-test, only minor modifications were required, and data from the field test interviews were included in the final data sets. Full survey administration took place between October 21, 2015, and November 26, 2015. The NYS was administered using multiple methods, including telephone and online.

Sampling

Canadian citizens aged 18 to 34 years as of October 19, 2015, were eligible to participate in the survey. The sample was developed to encompass all regions of Canada. The sampling approach included a random sample stratified by key characteristics of interest such as region, age and audience of interest and a purposive sample designed to represent specific subgroups.

In addition to the youth sample, a national random sample of Canadians 35 years of age or older who were eligible to vote on October 19, 2015, were surveyed.

The core sample was completed with 2,255 Canadians, across region, age and gender. The core sample includes 1,752 youth and the 503 respondents aged 35+ who make up the control group. The table below outlines the number of completions in the core sample.

Age 1822 (34%) 2329 (33%) 3034 (32%) 35+ Total
Gender M (52%) F (49%) M (47%) F (53%) M (47%) F (53%) M (53%) F (47%)
Atlantic NB 6 11 3 8 4 7 9 10 58 173
NS 6 11 7 7 6 8 11 12 68
PE 1 2 1 0 2 1 0 0 7
NL 4 4 6 4 7 6 5 4 40
Quebec QC 99 66 85 99 68 80 36 24 557 557
Ontario ON 104 119 100 94 100 108 127 104 856 856
Prairies AB 27 23 26 31 24 30 30 28 219 376
SK 12 9 6 10 7 10 7 10 71
MB 6 16 10 4 17 17 8 8 86
BC/Territories BC 44 30 33 50 28 32 35 33 285 293
YK 0 0 0 1 3 2 1 1 8
NW
NU
Total 309 291 277 308 266 301 269 234 2,255
600 585 567 503

Of the 2,255 respondents in the core sample, 1,503 (1,000 youth respondents and 503 adults) were randomly selected and contacted by cell phone and landline, while the remaining 752 completed the survey using our online panel.

National Random Sample

The sample frame for the telephone survey consisted of telephone numbers randomly selected from the ASDE lists of telephone numbers. Footnote 1 The sample was stratified by the following regions:

  • Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Quebec
  • Ontario
  • Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba)
  • British Columbia
  • Northern Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut)

In total, 1,372 valid completions were obtained; this has an overall margin of error of +2.6% at the 95% confidence interval. This means that the findings presented may be up to 2.6% more or less than the percentage reported. The distribution of key demographic characteristics was compared with the national random sample and the Canadian census of 2011. The slight differences in the distributions were corrected mathematically by post-stratification weighting by age and gender within the regions to reduce any potential bias caused by over- or under-sampling. For age, specific quotas were set for the following age groups:

  • 18 to 22 years of age
  • 23 to 29 years of age
  • 30 to 34 years of age

Oversample

In addition, an oversample was completed to ensure adequate sample sizes of five groups of interest among young Canadians (aged 1834). While some were surveyed in the core survey, an oversample was required to target these specific audiences. The additional respondents included the five subgroups below.

  • Aboriginal youth (n=264)
    • 15% live on reserve
  • Ethnocultural youth (n=718)
  • Youth residing in rural areas (n=815)
  • Youth with disabilities (n=280)
  • Unemployed youth not in school (n=175)

As well, it is important to note that participants could fall into more than one category as the groups are not mutually exclusive. As such, the numbers that represent respondents in each target group will not add up to the final numbers. Given the low incidences for the audiences in the oversample, a more targeted approach was used. We used our online panel in addition to partner panels and specialized panels, specifically targeting Aboriginal youth. Fieldwork was closely monitored by our consultants. Because the target group samples are non-probabilistic (i.e. not randomly selected), no margins of error can be assigned to these groups.

35+ Group

The sample frame for the telephone survey with adults 35 years and older also consisted of telephone numbers randomly selected from the ASDE lists of telephone numbers. The sample was stratified by the following regions:

  • Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Quebec
  • Ontario
  • Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba)
  • British Columbia
  • Northern Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut)

In total, 503 valid completions were obtained; this has an overall margin of error of +4.4% at the 95% confidence interval. This means that the findings presented may be up to 4.4% more or less than the percentage reported. The distribution of key demographic characteristics was compared with the national random sample and the Canadian census of 2011. The slight differences in the distributions were corrected mathematically by post-stratification weighting by age and gender within the regions to reduce any potential bias caused by over- or under-sampling.

Analysis

At the conclusion of the survey, data were entered and cleaned, open-ended responses were thematically coded and weights were applied to the required survey responses. The consultant then used the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, statistical analysis software) to produce the final survey results. The results for each question were cross-tabulated by reported voting behaviour in the general election held on October 19, 2015.

Considerations

The key strength of the study was the use of both random and purposive sampling. The random sample closely represented the national profile of youth in the 2011 census and therefore provided results that were reasonably nationally representative. The purposive sampling resulted in the inclusion of youth from subgroups that would not have been contacted by telephone sampling alone.

Notwithstanding the strengths of the data obtained from the NYS, some limitations need to be considered when reading the results.

  • Non-response bias can occur. Post-stratification weighting was used to adjust for any small differences noted in age and gender.
  • The challenges of engaging with subgroups. While the inclusion of subgroups of youth in the survey who were contacted through non-random methods provides insight into the factors that influence voting behaviour, the findings may not be representative of the subgroup populations as a whole.
  • Survey respondents tend to over-report voter turnout (discussed in more detail in the following section).

When reading this report, comparisons are made between the youth and older adult groups for each question. In addition, all subgroup differences are based on the youth sample only (i.e. region, gender, target audience).


Footnote 1 ASDE lists of numbers are updated regularly from telephone directories across Canada.