Dataset: Generations and Gender Survey Belgium Wave 1


The Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) provides micro-level data with the aim of significantly improving the knowledge base for social science and policymaking in Europe and developed countries elsewhere.  
In Europe 2020, the European Union develops a strategy "to help us come out stronger from the crisis and turn the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion". The economic crisis affects not only day-to-day decisions, but also fundamental choices at all stages of people's lives:  marriage and childbearing, the combination of employment and caring responsibilities for the young and the old, retirement, housing, and ageing well. The GGS has been developed to provide scientists with high-quality data to contribute scientifically grounded answers to these key policy questions. Survey content focuses on intergenerational and gender relations between people, expressed in care arrangements and the organization of paid and unpaid work. Key feature of the survey are:  
- Cross-national comparability. In each country data is collected on the basis of a common international questionnaire and guidelines about the methodology. Data processing includes central harmonization of national datasets.  
- A broad age range. It includes respondents between the ages of 18 and 80.
- A longitudinal design. It has a panel design, collecting information on the same persons at three-year intervals.  
- A large sample size. It has an average of 9,000 respondents per country at Wave 1.
- A theory-driven and multidisciplinary questionnaire. It provides data for policy relevant research by demographers, economists, sociologists, social policy researchers, social psychologists and epidemiologists. The questionnaire is inspired by the theory of planned behavior.
- Possibility to combine the survey data with macro data provided by the GGP Contextual Database. This combination enables analyses of individuals and families in their cultural, economic, political, social and policy contexts.

Variable Groups

Document Description

Full Title

Generations and Gender Survey Belgium Wave 1

Alternative Title

GGS Belgium Wave 1

Identification Number


Date of Distribution



Working Version: GGS Wave 1 Version 4.3.

Update of variable catagories and documentation with the release of Sweden Wave 1 Version 4.3.1

Date: 2017-12-22

Guide To Codebook

In the field “Study Description”, users can find metadata about surveys. This includes the distributors, keywords, abstract, and guidelines on the bibliographic citation.  
Country specific metadata include information on survey producers, methodology and processing. This information was provided partly by the GGP-country team based on a structured questionnaire to UNECE, and partly it was taken from the references listed under “Other References Note”.

The field “Data Files Description” provides metadata about the data file, such as file contents, missing values, as well as changes across different GGS versions.

The field "Variable Description" provides information on each variable, such as question text, descriptions of country specific categories and variables, universe (i.e., subset of respondents to whom the question was asked), country specific deviations to GGS routing, descriptions of the ways in which consolidated and derived variables are calculated. Variables are ordered according to the sections of the GGS codebook.

This is the reason why the total no. of variables in the documentation is smaller than the total number of variables in the SPSS and STATA files.

Full Title



Name Affiliation Abbreviation Role
Arianna Caporali Institut national d'études démographiques (INED) AC

Study Description

Full Title

Generations and Gender Survey Belgium  Wave 1

Alternative Title

GGS Belgium Wave 1

Identification Number


Authoring Entity

Name Affiliation
Lydia Merckx Statistics Belgium - (STATBEL)
Belgian Science Policy - AGORA-programme (BELSPO)
Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering (SVR)
Institut Wallon de l'Évaluation, de la Prospective et de la Statistique (IWEPS)

Other identifications and acknowledgments

Name Affiliation Role
Deboosere Patrick Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) - Interface Demography Coordinator of the scientific team
Karel Neels Universiteit Antwerpen (UA) - Centrum voor Longitudinaal en Levensloop Onderzoek CELLO Coordinator of the scientific team
Universiteit Gent (UG) - Centre for Social Theory
Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) - Centre de recherche en démographie et societies
Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering (SVR)


Name Affiliation Abbreviation Role
Belgian Science Policy - AGORA-programme (BELSPO)
Statistics Belgium - (STATBEL)
Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering (SVR)
Institut Wallon de l'Évaluation, de la Prospective et de la Statistique (IWEPS)

Data Distributor

Name Affiliation Abbreviation
Institut national des études démographiques - 133 boulevard Davout 75980 Paris Cedex 20, France. INED
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute - Lange Houtstraat 19, NL-2511 CV The Hague, The Netherlands Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute - Lange Houtstraat 19, NL-2511 CV The Hague, The Netherlands Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute - Lange Houtstraat 19, NL-2511 CV The Hague, The Netherlands NIDI

Bibliographic Citation

United Nations 2005. Generations & Gender Programme: Survey Instruments. New York and Geneva: UN, 2005.

List of Keywords

Date of Collection

Start End Cycle
2008-02 2010-05


Belgium  (BEL)

Geographic Coverage

Whole national territory of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Geographic Unit

Nuts 1 Regions (the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region, and the Brussels-Capital Region).

Unit of Analysis



The data cover the non-institutionalized population aged 18-79, officially residing on Belgian territory as of January 2008, 1, regardless of the spoken lanuguage(s).

Kind of Data

Survey data

Time Method


Data Collector

Sampling Procedure

1. Sampling frame: The total Belgian population was equal to 10,666,866 individuals (source: STATBEL), as of 1 January 2008 when the sample was drawn; the survey population was equal to 7,828,470 persons at that moment. This is 73% of the total Belgian population at that moment.

2. Sampling method: On the one hand, a random sample, i.e. a stratified two-stage sample using the National Register as basis; 17,836 people in total were selected this way. On the other hand, corrections were implemented through weighting factors, after analysis of the non-response (at interview as well as at item level).

Mode of Data Collection

Method: Face-to-Face (personal interview).
Technique: Computer-Assisted (CAPI).

Type of Research Instrument

Structured questionnaire available in Dutch, French.

Characteristics of Data Collection Situation

1. Interviewers
- Interviewer training: Interviewers were informed about general basic rules of interviewing. During the training, the following topics were dealt with: contacting procedure, confidentiality issues, before interview protocols (including techniques to persuade contacts to participate to the survey), interviewing method and best practices. Interviewers were also provided with relevant documentation concerning the survey.
- Control of performance: To monitor the work of interviewers during the fieldwork, a follow-up was organized on a weekly basis, through the so-called  "group monitor". In case of doubt about the work and the good intentions of the interviewer, he/she could be asked to give his/her group to another interviewer.

2. Contact protocols
2.1 Advance letter: No. Interviewers could announce their visit visit by a letter. But this was not compulsory.
2.2 Cold contacts: Face-to-Face
2.3 Scheduling / scattering: Yes. To get the highest response rate, contacts attempts were scattered over different days of the week and different parts of the day.
2.4 Contact history: Yes. For each contact attempt, the interviewer had to report the date, the time and the outcome in a contact form.
2.5 Min number of contacts: 3 (at least one time at the individual's home, at least one time in the evening and one in the weekend).
2.6 Max number of contacts: 10.

3. Questionnaire localization
- Pre-test: a pilot study was carried out in June 2007, on a random sample of N=1000. However, only 107 individuals accepted to participate and, of them, only 72 were actually interviewed. As a result, the pilot was really biased in terms of age and education profiles. This experience suggested asking respondent with an informed consent form.
- Lenght of interviews:  median duration equal to 69 minutes.
The optional modules on "Housing" and "Nationality & Ethnicity" were only partially implemented in Belgium.  The “Housing” module overlaps with the Belgian censuses that are carried out since 2001. In order to make the GGS international questionnaire compliant with the Belgian National Law, some questions have been modified/omitted. Some response categories have been modified. Once translated in French, Dutch and German, the questionnaire was not re-translated back in English.

Response Rate

Response rate - Final disposition codes:
I or P = complete interview or partial interview= 7171
NE = non-eligible: 663  
NC = non-contact: 945
R = refusal: 5689
O = other non-response: There have been 589 broken appointments; 1373 were impossible, and 1406 not attempted.

Completeness of Study Stored

The Belgian questionnaire includes some questions that are not present in the international questionnaire. These questions regard disability of household members in daily activities, fertility treatments and any eventual problems during previous pregnancies.


In order to access micro data files, users have to sign and submit a Statement of affiliation, confidentiality and acceptable usage. They also have to submit a title and abstract of their research project. They can use the data for all their research projects, except for datasets from Australia, Belgium and Norway. Users of these datasets need to submit a new application form if they want to use the data in a different research project. The access rights from Wave 1 data are NOT transferred to the Wave 2 data. Wave 1 data users need to submit a new application form to gain access to Wave 2 datasets.

Access Authority

Name Affiliation E-mail address Universal Resource Identifier
UNECE Population Unit - Palais des Nations - CH-1211 Geneva 10 - Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 917 24 77 - fax: +41 22 917 01 07

Citation Requirement

In any work emanating from research based on the Generations and Gender Survey micro-data, I will acknowledge that these data were obtained from the GGP Data Archive and refer to the publication that describes the model survey instruments: United Nations 2005. Generations & Gender Programme: SurveyInstruments. New York and Geneva: UN, 2005

Deposit Requirement

Users of GGS micro-data are required to send any research papers based on the Generations and Gender Survey micro-data or aggregate tabulations to the Population Activities Unit of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, for inclusion in the GGP publications archive.


In order to access, it is necessary to subscribe to the GGP Data User Space, and to follow the instructions available on the GGP data access webpage.


The authors and producers bear no responsibility for the uses of the GGS data, or for interpretations or inferences based on these uses. The producers accept no liability for indirect, consequential or incidental damages or losses arising from use of the data collection, or from the unavailability of, or break in access to the service for whatever reason.

Related Materials

National website of GGP

Wave 1 Belgian questionnaire and show cards (in French and in Dutch)


Other References Note

Belgian country presentations at the GGP International Working Group Meetings

GGP Belgium Paper Series - Online link

Wave 1 Fieldwork

GGP Belgium Paper Series (no. 2), by Tom De Winter, Greet Lauwereys, Hannelore Vanderbeken, Sandrine Dewaleffe, Inge Pasteels, and Karel Neels

Wave 1 Response rate calculation

GGP Belgium Paper Series (no. 3) by Greet Lauwereys, Karel Neels, and Tom De Winter

Wave 1 Interview analysis

GGP Belgium Paper Series (no. 4) by Inge Pasteels, Tom De Winter, Greet Lauwereys, and Karel Neels

Data Files Description

File Name


Contents of Files

This is the reason why the total no. of variables in the Nesstar data file is smaller than the total number of variables in the SPSS and STATA files.

Variables are ordered according to the sections of the GGS codebook: Household, Children, Partnerships, Household Organisation and Partnership Quality, Parents and Parental Home, Fertility, Health and Well-Being, Respondent's Activity and Income, Partner's Activity and Income, Household Possessions, Income and Transfers, Value Orientations and Attitudes, Interviewers' report.
The variables begin with a letter designating the wave of data collection ("a" for the first wave likewise "b" for the second wave). We have attempted to keep the names of variables the same across the waves, and all the new variables would be identified as follows ["wave letter"]n e.g.  bn301.  
Although we encourage the countries to strictly follow the GGS Questionnaire, countries might implement a question that differs to a considerable extent from the GGS Questionnaire. In this case either we add country specific response values, or we introduce a country specific variable.  
Country specific values are added when the question follows the model questionnaire, but the answers are not at all or partly compatible. They are at least 4 digits long (F4 format) and begin with the country code: e.g., Australia 2401. Hence, the country code, as an example, for Australia is 24.  
A country specific variable is introduced when the question differs from the model questionnaire albeit measuring the same concept. This kind of variables is identified with a suffix given by the country code plus a number, e.g., Australia a119_2401.
In order to have an overview of GGS country code, please refer to the variable "acountry".

Overall Case Count


Overall Variable Count


Type of File

Nesstar 200801

Extent of Processing Checks

The data is submitted in an already pre-harmonised form. It is prepared and organised according to the GGS standards.  
Harmonisation aims at achieving a clear and comparable format of the GGS micro-data files that would be adequate for cross-country comparison.  The harmonisation procedure basically is composed of:
1. Label checks  
This step makes sure that all the variables are named the same across the countries and refer to a particular question in the GGS Questionnaire. Also the value labels are checked. They should be the same across GGS datasets.  
2. Dealing with grids
The GGS Questionnaire holds several grids of either event history information or members of the household. Such data needs to be harmonized with specific attention to order and logical consistency of grid-rows (be either household members or events such as births). In data sense each row of the grid is represented by variable name followed by a subscripted number ("_#"). Each subscript thus represents one household member or one event. Part of the grid harmonization is grid sorting. Grid rows are sorted according to pre-defined key. For example in the household grid, the household members are sorted according to their relationship to the respondent i.e. the relation to respondent variable (ahg3_# or bhg3_# ). Respondents would appear, first, followed by their partners and children if any and then followed by other household members. As there may be more then one child (or other relative) living in the household they also would need to be sorted. In the case of the household grid, age is used as the secondary sorting key (starting with the oldest person to the youngest).
3. Routing
Routing check ensures that the structure of underlying data set matches the structure of the GGS questionnaire. Its main goal is to code any given variable in the dataset to either a valid response, nonresponse or skip as indicated in the questionnaire. Consequently, the indicated skip in the quetionnaire is represented with a system missing code (. in STATA, sysmis in SPSS), while the missing information for other reasons is coded into non-applicable/no response (i.e. codes 7, 8, 9 in SPSS or .a, .b, .c in STATA).  
4. Consolidation  
The process consolidates the information scattered over several variables into a single one. The consolidation procedure is carried out in the Children Section, the Partnership Section and the Parents and Parental Home Section.
5. Imputation  
Due to its sensitive nature, the respondents are reluctant to share income information with the interviewer. In order to be able to use income information in a cross country comparative study and not to loose too many observations in the process it is necessary to impute the approximately correct distribution of the income variable in each country.  
6. Calculation of derived variables
We calculate derived variables out of the following variables:
- grid variables (i.e., household grid, children grid, and partnership history grid); the codebook starts with the constructed variables that sum the key socio-demographic characteristics of the respondent.
- month and year variables,  
- hours and minutes variables,
- frequency and unit variables.  
Occupation variables are recoded into ISCO-88 1 digit.
Explanations of the ways in which consolidated and derived variables are obtained, are available under the field "Note" of the "Variable Description" sections.
For a more detailed and technical procedure please refer to the Data Cleaning and Harmonisation Guidelines.

Missing Data

The following missing values have been assigned:
- 6, 96, 996, etc. = Unknown (only for consolidated variables in the group "administrative variables")
- 7, 97, 997, etc. = Don't know
- 8, 98, 998, etc. = Refusal
- 9, 99, 999, etc. = Not-applicable/no response


Harmonized dataset, GGS Wave1, version 4.3.


Variables corrected with Version 4.3.
- fertintent (no more ambiguous labelling)
- a1101 (corrected error in coding)
- aweight (now available also for NLD CZE SWE POL)
- aregion (now available also for HUN)
- aplace (now available also for HUN)
- a5112 (corrected routing error for ROU)
- a5113 (corrected routing error for ROU)
- a5114 (corrected routing error for ROU)
- a5115 (corrected routing error i for ROU)
- a211b_ (corrected error for POL & GEO)
- ankids (corrected error for POL & GEO)
- a1008mnth (corrected error for NGR & BEL)
- a108 (now available for SWE)
- a109_1 (now available for SWE)
- a109_2 (now available for SWE)
- a149 (now available for SWE)
- a309 (now available for SWE)
- aregion (now available for SWE)
- a620_ (corrected error for DEU & CZE)
- a402 (corrected error for POL)
- a149 (corrected error routing error in NOR)
- a344 (corrected error routing error in NOR)
- a256_ (corrected error for POL & GEO)

The update from v4.1 to v4.2 does not include corrections of existing variables.  
The update only includes additional variables which are derived from the pre-existing datasets
- Variables derived from grid variables and variables which concern the respondents and his/her partner: numdissol numdivorce nummarriage numpartners livingwithpartner childprevp femage maleage femeduc maleeduc fertintent numbiol numres numnonres numstep numallchild ageyoungest ageoldest numrespleave numotherparentleave coreschild coresparen coresgrandp coressibl.
- Variables derived from month and year variable:  
a808Dur a822Dur a907Dur a911Dur a914Dur; a303cAgeP a315AgeP a316cAgeP a374cAgeP a608AgeP a610AgeP a617bAgeP a621AgeP a914AgeP a941AgeP; a107AgeR a121AgeR a150AgeR a239aAgeR a239bAgeR a240AgeR a301AgeR a302bAgeR; a311AgeR a314bAgeR a314dAgeR a371AgeR a372bAgeR a603AgeR a608AgeR a610AgeR a613AgeR a614AgeR a619AgeR a621AgeR a816AgeR a822AgeR a871AgeR a5116AgeR a5117bAgeR; a302bTdiff a314bTdiff a314dTdiff a372bTdiff.
- Variables derived from hours and minutes variables: a324_hour a520_hour a540_hour.
- Variables derived from frequency and unit variables: a205mnth,a241mnth,a325mnth,a355mnth,a359mnth,a363mnth,a367mnth,a521mnth,a541mnth,a1008mnth,a1102mnth; a203c_?w a204c_?w.
- Occupation variables recoded into ISCO-88 1 digit: a828_1dig a832_1dig a861_1dig a917_1dig a921_1dig a933_1dig a5112_1dig a5114_1dig.

- Variables corrected: amarstat ankids a540t a866* a929* a940ff.

- New constructed variables: asex aage abyear aeduc aactstat aparstat amarstat anpartner ankids ahhsize ahhtype ahhsize ahhtype.
- New consolidated variables on respondents' current activity: a870, a871m, a871y, a873, a874, a875.
- New consolidated variables on respondents' partners current activity: a940, a941m, a941y, a943, a944, a945.
- Variables corrected: a601 and a602 (corrected, with consequences on the response rate of subsequent variables), a622, a623, a624, a625, a626, a627*, a628*, a629*, a631*, a383 (now rounded), a864*ff, a936*, a334m*.
- Variables for which labels are now corrected: a1101_2301, a1104*, a351*, a312b, a203b* ("family, neigbors,friends (paid) as cs value" was dropped because this refers to informal childcare captured in a204b*).

FIRST DATASET RELEASED: V. 3.0 (December 2011).


Before publication in Nesstar GGS micro data files are further processed so as to ease online data browsing and analysing.
We delete variables having all system missings.


Metadata Index

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