Surveying Persons in Same-Sex Relationships in a Probabilistic Way – An Example from the Netherlands

Stephanie Steinmetz 1  and Mirjam Fischer 2
  • 1 University of Lausanne, Institute for Social Sciences, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2 German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Survey Methodology and Survey Management (SOEP Survey), , 10117, Berlin, Germany

Abstract

In the last decade, the call for improved estimates of lesbians, gay men and bisexual (LGB) populations has grown steadily. This is related to the increasing visibility of same-sex unions and the rapidly evolving changes in the legal and normative institutional frameworks regarding same-sex relationships in Western countries. The aim of this article is to present the sampling strategy and discuss the quality of a recently conducted probability-based survey in the Netherlands that targeted mixed-sex and same-sex couples with and without children. The core questions addressed are (1) whether the sampling strategy paid off in terms of identifying same-sex households and (2) whether the collected sample is representative of the target population. While the sampling strategy has success in identifying same-sex households, the question of representativeness remains a challenging task in surveying LGB populations and couples in particular. Especially, aspects related to the sampling strategy, the survey mode and the covered topic of the research are central to understanding observed selection patterns in the examined mixed- and same-sex samples.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Almazan, E. et al. 2009. “Best Practices for Asking Questions about Sexual Orientation on Surveys?” Los Angeles: The Williams Institute. Available at: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/SMART-FINAL-Nov-2009.pdf (accessed September 2019).

  • Andersson, G., T. Noak, A. Seierstad, and H. Weedon-Fekjaer. 2006. “The demographics of same-sex marriages in Norway and Sweden.” Demography 43: 79–98. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2006.0001.

  • Banens, M. and E. Le Penven. 2016. “Sex miscoding in the census and its effects on the enumeration of same-sex couples.” Population 71(1): 131–143. DOI: http://doi.org/10.3917/popu.1601.0135.

  • Barrett, H. and F. Tasker. 2001. “Growing up with a gay parent: Views of 101 gay fathers on their sons’ and daughters’ experiences.” Educational and Child Psychology 18: 62–77.

  • Bell, A. and M. Weinberg. 1978. “Homosexuality’s: a study of diversity among men and women.” New York: Simon and Shuster.

  • Binson, D., J. Blair, D. Huebner, and W. Woods. 2007. Sampling in surveys of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. In The health of sexual minorities: Public health perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations, edited by I. Meyer and M. Northridge, 375–418. New York: Springer.

  • Blair, J. 1999. “A probability sample of gay urban males: The use of two-phase adaptive sampling.” The Journal of Sex Research 36: 39–44. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/00224499909551965.

  • Bolding, G., M. Davis, G. Hart, L. Sherr, and J. Elford. 2007. “Where young MSM meet their first sexual partner: The role of the Internet.” AIDS & Behavior 11(4): 522–526. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-007-9224-9.

  • Bos, H. 2004. “Parenting in Lesbian Families.” Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

  • CBS. 2018. “The Netherlands leads Europe in internet access” (press release). Available at: https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2018/05/the-netherlands-leads-europe-in-internet-access (accessed September 2019).

  • Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities. 2011. “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. Institute of Medicine (US).” Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64802/.

  • Conrad, F., M. Couper, R. Tourangeau, and A. Peytchev. 2010. “The impact of progress indicators on task completion.” Interacting with Computers 22: 417–427. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.intcom.2010.03.001.

  • Cortina, C. and P. Festy. 2014. “Identification of same-sex couples and families in censuses, registers and surveys.” FamiliesAndSocieties Working Papers Series 8. Available at: http://www.familiesandsocieties.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/WP8CortinaFesty2014.pdf (accessed September 2019).

  • De Graaf, P., M. Kalmijn, G. Kraaykamp, and C. Monden. 2010. “Design and content of the NEtherlands Longitudinal Lifecourse Study (NELLS).” Netherlands: Tilburg University & Radboud University Nijmegen.

  • DeMaio, T., N. Bates, and M. O’Connell. 2013. “Exploring measurement error issues in reporting same-sex couples.” Public Opinion Quarterly 77(Special Issue): 45–158. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfs066.

  • Dewaele, A., M. Caen, and A. Buysse. 2014. “Comparing survey and sampling methods for reaching sexual minority individuals in Flanders.” Journal of Official Statistics 30(2): 251–275. DOI: http://doi.org/10.2478/jos-2014-0016.

  • Dillman, D., J. Smyth, and L. Christian. 2009. “Internet, mail, and mixed-mode surveys: The tailored design method (3rd ed.).” New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  • ESS, European Social Survey Cumulative File, ESS 1-8. 2018. Data file edition 1.0. NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data, Norway - Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21338/NSD-ESS-CUMULATIVE.

  • European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. 2012. “EU LGBT survey – Technical report Methodology, online survey, questionnaire and sample.” Research report. Available at: http://fra.europa.eu/en/survey/2012/eu-lgbt-survey (accessed September 2019).

  • Evans, A., R. Wiggins, G. Bolding, and J. Elford. 2008. “Characteristics of gay and bisexual men who drop out of a web survey of sexual behaviour in the UK.” AIDS & Behavior 12(6): 957–963. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-008-9400-6.

  • Fischer, M. 2016. “Identifying same-sex couples in cross-national survey data: A comparison of same-sex couples’ demographic and socio-economic traits in six European countries.” In Nederland in context: verschillen en overeenkomsten, edited by R. Meuleman, G. Kraaykamp, and M. Wittenberg, 50–79. Den Haag: DANS.

  • Fischer, M. 2019. “Free to Live their Lives as they Wish? The Social Well-Being Gap between Persons in Same-Sex and Mixed-Sex Relationships in Europe” [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Amsterdam: The Netherlands. ISBN 978-94-92679-72-7.

  • Fischer, M. and S. Steinmetz. 2018. “Designing a Sampling Frame for Same-Sex Couples and Families: The Unions in Context Study” In SAGE Research Methods. Cases (Vol. 2). London: SAGE.

  • Fischer, M., M. Kalmijn, and S. Steinmetz. 2017. “Design, content and questionnaire of the UNICON study: Lesbian, gay and heterosexual couples and families in the Netherlands.” Research report. University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Available at: https://dare.uva.nl/search?identifier=d7a835f9-7c1b-448b-8047-a9779f5710db (accessed September 2019).

  • Galupo, M., E. Lomash, and R. Mitchell. 2016. “All of my lovers fit into this scale: sexual minority individuals’ responses to two novel measures of sexual orientation.” Journal of Homosexuality 64: 145–165. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2016.1174027.

  • Gates, G. 2013. “LGBT Parenting in the United States.” Los Angeles, CA: Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Available at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Parenting.pdf.

  • Goldberg, A. and K. Allen. 2007. “Lesbian mothers’ ideas and intentions about male involvement across the transition to parenthood.” Journal of Marriage and Family 69: 352–365. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00370.x.

  • Gribble, J., H. Miller, S. Rogers, and C. Turner. 1999. “Interview mode and measurement of sexual behaviors: Methodological issues.” Journal of Sex Research 36(1): 16–24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499909551963.

  • Haseldon, L. and T. Joloza. 2009. “Measuring sexual identity: a guide for researchers.” Newport (UK): Office for National Statistics. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/methodology/classificationsandstandards/sexualidentityguidanceandprojectdocumentation (accessed November 2019).

  • Herek, G., A. Norton, T. Allen, and C. Sims. 2010. “Demographic, psychological, and social characteristics of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in a US probability sample.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy 7(3): 176–200. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-010-0017-y.

  • Hicks, S. 2005. “Is gay parenting bad for kids? Responding to the ‘very idea of difference’ in research on lesbian and gay parents.” Sexualities 8: 153–168. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1177/1363460705050852.

  • Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities. 2011. “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.” Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64802/.

  • Kenyon, E. and S. Heath. 2010. “Choosing this life: narratives of choice amongst house sharers.” Housing Studies 16(4): 619–635. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/02673030120080080.

  • Kinsey, A., W. Pomeroy, and C. Martin. 1948. “Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male.” Philadelphia: Saunders.

  • Kuyper, L. 2016. “LHBT-monitor 2016: opvattingen over en ervaringen van lesbische, homoseksuele, biseksuele en transgender personen.” Den Haag: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

  • Laumann, E., J. Gagnon, R. Michael, and S. Michaels. 1994. “The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States.” Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

  • Lee, R. 1993. “Doing research on sensitive topics.” London: Sage Publications.

  • Lozar Manfreda, K., M. Bosnjak, J. Berzelak, I. Haas, and V. Vehovar. 2008. “Web surveys versus other survey modes: A meta-analysis comparing response rates.” International Journal of Market Research 50(1): 79–104. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1177/147078530805000107.

  • Meyer, I. and M. Colten. 1999. “Sampling gay men: Random Digit Dialing versus sources in the gay community.” Journal of Homosexuality 37(4): 99–110. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1300/J082v37n04_06.

  • Meyer, I. and P. Wilson. 2009. “Sampling lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations.” Journal of Counseling Psychology 56(1): 23–31. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1037/a0014587.

  • Muñoz-Leiva, F., J. Sánchez-Fernández, F. Montoro-Ríos, and J. Ibáñez-Zapata. 2010. “Improving the response rate and quality in Web-based surveys through the personalization and frequency of reminder mailings.” Quality & Quantity 44(5): 1037–1052. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-009-9256-5.

  • OECD. 2019. “Society at a Glance 2019: OECD Social Indicators.” Paris: OECD Publishing. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1787/soc_glance-2019-en.

  • Patterson, C. 1992. “Children of lesbian and gay parents.” Child Development 63: 1025–1042. DOI: http://doi.org/10.2307/1131517.

  • Régnier-Loilier, A. 2018. “Are the Generations and Gender Surveys well suited for studying same-sex couples?” European Journal of Population 34(4): 567–578. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-017-9440-6.

  • Rosser, B., M. Miner, W. Bockting, M. Ross, J. Konstan, L. Gurak, J. Stanton, W. Edwards, S. Jacoby, A. Carballo-Dieguez, R. Mazin, and E. Coleman. 2009. “HIV risk and the Internet: Results of the Men’s Internet Sex (MINTS) Study.” AIDS & Behavior 13(4): 746–756. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-008-9399-8.

  • Ross, M., B. Rosser, and J. Stanton. 2004. “Beliefs about cybersex and Internet-mediated sex of Latino men who have Internet sex with men: Relationships with sexual practices in cybersex and in real life.” AIDS Care 16(8): 1002–1011. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/09540120412331292444.

  • Rothblum, E. 2007. “From science fiction to computer-generated technology: Sampling lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.” In The health of sexual minorities: Public health perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations, edited by I. Meyer and M. Northridge, 441–454. New York: Springer.

  • Schwartz, C. and N. Graf. 2009. “Assortative matching among same-sex and different-sex couples in the United States, 1990–2000.” Demographic Research 21: 843–878. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2009.21.28.

  • Sell, R. and C. Petrulio. 1996. “Sampling homosexuals, bisexuals, gays, and lesbians for public health research: A review of the literature from 1990 to 1992.” Journal of Homosexuality 30(4): 31–47. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1300/J082v30n04_02.

  • Smyth, J. and J. Pearson. 2011. “Internet survey methods: A review of strengths, weaknesses, and innovations.” In Social and behavioral research and the internet. Advances in applied methods and research strategies, edited by M. Das, P. Ester, and L. Kaczmirek, 11–44. New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Solarz, A. (ed.). 1999. “Lesbian health: current assessment and directions for the future.” Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

  • Sudman, S., M. Sirken, and C. Cowan. 1988. “Sampling rare and elusive populations.” Science 240: 991–996. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.240.4855.991.

  • Spira, A., N. Bajos, and the ACSF Group. 1994. “Sexual Behaviour and AIDS.” Aldershot, England: Avebury.

  • Statistics Netherlands. 2016. “Veileigheidsmonitor 2015.” Research report. Den Haag, the Netherlands. Available at: https://download.cbs.nl/pdf/veiligheidsmonitor-2015.pdf (accessed November 2019).

  • Statistics Netherlands. 2018. “Population dynamics; birth, death and migration per region.” Available at: https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/en/dataset/37259eng/table?dl=1310C (accessed November 2019).

  • Tolsma, J., G.L.M. Kraaykamp, P.M. de Graaf, M. Kalmijn, C.M. Monden. 2014. Netherlands Longitudinal Lifecourse Study - NELLS Panel Wave 1 2009 and Wave 2 2013 - versie 1.2. DANS. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-25n-2xjv.

  • Tourangeau, R. and T. Yan. 2007. “Sensitive questions in surveys.” Psychological Bulletin 133(5): 859–883. DOI: http://doi.org/0.1037/0033-2909.133.5.859.

  • Tourangeau, R. 2014. “Defining hard to survey populations.” In Hard to Survey Populations, edited by B. Edwards, R. Tourangeau, T. Johnson, K. Wolter, and N. Bates, 3–21. Cambridge University Press.

  • Shih, T.-H. and X. Fan. 2008. “Comparing response rates from Web and mail surveys: A metaanalysis.” Field Methods 20(3): 249–271. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1177/1525822X08317085.

  • Umberson, D., M. Thomeer, P. Kroeger, A. Lodge, and M. Xu. 2015. “Challenges and opportunities for research on same-sex relationships.” Journal of Marriage and Family 77(1): 96–111. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12155.

  • UNESCO. 2012. “International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011.” UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Canada. Available at: http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/international-standard-classification-of-education-isced-2011-en.pdf (accessed September 2019).

  • Wellings, K., J. Field, A. Johnson, and J. Wadsworth. 1994. “Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.” London: Penguin Books.

  • Wolff, M., B. Wells, C. Ventura-DiPersia, A. Renson, and C. Grov. 2017. “Measuring sexual orientation: a review and critique of U.S. data collection efforts and implications for health policy.” The Journal of Sex Research 54: 507–553. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2016.1255872.

  • Valfort, M.-A. 2017. “LGBTI in OECD Countries: A Review.” OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, OECD Publishing, Paris. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1787/d5d49711-en (accessed June 2019).

  • Villarroel, M., C. Turner, E. Eggleston, A. Al-Tayyib, S. Rogers, A. Roman, P. Cooley, and H. Gordek. 2006. “Same-gender sex in the United States: Impact of T-ACASI on prevalence estimates.” Public Opinion Quarterly 70(2): 166–196. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfj023.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Search