Surveying national minorities


FORS Guide Nº 06

How to cite

Herzing, J. M. E., Elcheroth, G., Lipps, O., & Kleiner, B. (2019). Surveying national minorities. FORS Guide No. 06, Version 1.0. Lausanne: Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS. doi:10.24449/FG-2019-00006


This guide is for survey practitioners who want to collect information on national minorities. The guide addresses the main concerns with surveying national minorities, points out particularities in Switzerland, and gives some practical recommendations for survey practitioners.


  • Samples including minorities should be based on reliable population registers whenever available and optimally stratified by the main cleavages that are likely to organise the distribution of relevant indicators in the target population
  • Coverage and nonresponse bias should be assessed and monitored to inform survey practitioners about the efficiency of their survey design and data users about selection processes that need to be considered when interpreting findings. When post-survey adjustments are used, it is important that social categories used to derive survey weights reflect the actual sources of diversity with regard to critical respondent behaviour.
  • It is important to be transparent about the part of the population that will be lost in a survey as a consequence of the actual survey languages, survey modes, and sampling procedure. Survey modes and language of first contact are often critical and need to be planned with particular care. The survey design needs to be in line with the research questions, and the interpretation of findings should refer to the concrete characteristics of the survey design used.
  • To ensure adequate representation and valid data in surveys on diverse population, the sampling and questionnaire designs need to be informed by relevant knowledge of social habits and linguistic practices across all target groups. Developing survey items through adequate pre-testing in all relevant groups is generally advisable.
  • In interviewer administered surveys, the role of interviewers is generally critical. The social and cultural composition of interviewer teams, as well as their training and payment scheme need to be designed in a way that is consistent with the survey objectives in terms of the population represented.


Copyright: © the authors 2019. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)

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