Taiwan MoST celebrates achievement of Social Change Survey at press conference

The Social Change Survey has been tracking societal developments for over 30 years

Central Taiwan Science Park Bureau

Central Taiwan Science Park Bureau (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology held a press conference Tuesday to expound the achievements of the Taiwan Social Change Survey; one of the largest social surveys in the world.

The Taiwan Social Change Survey has tracked profound changes in Taiwanese society for over 30 years since the repeal of martial law. It produces data on a wide range of issues from family values to national identity.

This year, for the first time, science and technology risks entered the survey alongside questions on artificial intelligence and green-nuclear issues, Liberty Times reports.

Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology researcher Fu Yang-Chih (傅仰止) explained at the conference that the survey polls citizens on education, social class and mobility, cultural values, religion, interpersonal relationships, social networks and much more. Fu said the new issue is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

While there are different topics each year, associate researcher Lin Thunghong (林宗弘) noted, questions on key matters like national identity always make an appearance.

On this particular topic, he said, a four-point questioning method is used to achieve the least ambiguous results. Poll-takers are asked if they are Taiwanese, if they are Taiwanese and also Chinese, if they are Chinese and also Taiwanese, or if they are just Chinese.

In the 2015 comprehensive report, a record-high of over 73 percent identified as solely Taiwanese.

The survey is adapted each year to account for major new challenges faced by society. Questions on fake news, for example, have been added due to the proliferation of disinformation that authorities believe impacted last year’s nine-in-one elections.

Lin said the results are regularly used to inform policy changes. Results from the 2017 survey, which showed half of people who earned under NT$30,000 each month were unmarried, galvanized the government into raising minimum monthly salaries last year in an effort to turn around Taiwan’s declining birth rate, he noted.

In addition to serving an important purpose for domestic governance, the Social Change Survey team also cooperates with global partners to design international comparative surveys, and launched the East Asian Social Survey in 2003.