In 1974, within months of completing his Ph.D., Reginald Bibby began work on what he assumed would be a single, one-shot national survey while teaching at York University and the University of Lethbridge. That single survey has evolved into a unique series of national surveys that have been carried out every five years through 2005 - seven in all.
This "Project Canada" survey research program has permitted the monitoring of Canadian social trends since the infamous 1960s. The adult surveys have been complemented by national surveys of teenagers that were completed in 1984, 1992, 2000, and 2008. Together, these surveys have provided unparallelled cross-sectional, trend, and intergenerational readings on social trends in Canada. The surveys have also been yielding panel data: each new adult sample has included a core of people who participated in one or more of the previous surveys.
Bibby smiles as he recalls a friendly critic complementing him on his pioneering surveys a few years ago by saying, “They’re great! It just goes to show you don’t have to best – you just have to be first!” His surveys represent a first, in that they go back to a time when few current pollsters apart from Gallup were on the scene. But they also represent a first in their scope – providing comprehensive readings on Canadian life which, when combined with their youth survey component, makes them unusually valuable, and certainly among the best available survey research sources for examining social
change. The major funding sources for the Project Canada Surveys have been the Lilly Endowment, the Louisville Institute, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, The Secretary of State, and the University of Lethbridge. The seven adult surveys have each had samples of approximately 1,500 people, weighted down to about 1,200 cases to minimize the use of large weight factors. Conducted by mail with return rates of roughly 65%, they have yielded high-quality data. The samples are highly representative of the Canadian adult population and are of sufficient size to be accurate within about three percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times in 20.
The 2005 Project Canada survey was carried out between approximately the end of July and the end of November of 2005. A total of 2,400 people participated, including a special Centennial Year oversample of some 500 extra Albertans. For purposes of national analyses, the sample has been weighted down to a highly representative national sample of 1,600 cases, permitting generalizations to the Canadian population that are accurate within about 2.5 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times in 20.
The Project Teen Canada Youth Surveys
As mentioned, the Project Teen Canada national surveys have been carried out in 1984, 1992, 2000, and 2008. These four surveys have explored the attitudes, values, beliefs, behaviour, and expectations of Canadian young people between the ages of 15 and 19.
The primary goal has been to produce comprehensive information on Canadian young people that can assist educators, parents, and people in our other major institutions – such as media, government, and religious groups – to better understand youth and relate more effectively to them. Combined with the complementary Project Canada adult surveys (1975-1980-1985-1990-1995-2000), the Project Teen Canada surveys provide valuable and fairly unique information on the impact of our changing times on individual Canadians, young and old, as well as the country as a whole. These surveys have probed a wide variety of topics, consistent with the primary research goal of obtaining comprehensive information on Canadian youth. Among the areas being examined are values, sources of enjoyment, social attitudes, personal and social concerns, perceived sources of influence, sexuality, relationships, spirituality, hopes and expectations, and the impact of technology generally and the Internet specifically. Together, the Project Canada youth and adult surveys the findings are extremely helpful in enabling observers to gain a clearer understanding of the influence of social and culture change on individual Canadians, young and old, as well as the country as a whole. A major area of interest in recent years has been the impact of the legacy of the Baby Boomers, notably the accelerated levels of both change and choice. The Boomer Factor: What Canada’s Most Famous Generation is Leaving Behind (2006) examines the society that Boomers have played a major role in creating. The Emerging Millennials (2009) summarizes and interprets the findings from the 2008 survey, in light of information also gained from earlier readings of teenagers and dults. But it also focuses specifically on how today’s teenagers are dealing with “what is being left behind,” as reflected in the subtitle - How Canada’s Newest Generation is Responding to Change and Choice.
PROJECT TEEN CANADA 2008
The latest in Reginald Bibby's national youth surveys, Project Teen Canada 2008, was completed in late in 2008. The survey built on previous surveys completed in 1984, 1992, and 2000 that have produced unparalleled information on the evolving attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour of the country's young people. The findings have taken on additional value since they have complemented by parallel adult Project Canada surveys spanning 1975 through 2005. In addition, the 2008 survey sample included a special Aboriginal supplement of more than 600 students in band schools across the country. James Penner served as the associate director of the project. From the beginning, a primary goal has been to generate information on youth that is academically sound and shared widely with organizations and individuals that care about youth. The findings have subsequently become well-known to educators, the media, governments, corporations, health care workers, family organizations, religious groups, youth leaders, young people, and parents. The three books that have summarized and interpreted the findings (The Emerging Generation, 1985; Teen Trends, 1992; Canada’s Teens, 2001) have known wide readerships. Indicative of general interest in the program, the 2000 and 2008 surveys were featured as cover stories by Maclean’s (April 5, 2001 and April 13, 2009). Beyond publications, Bibby and other survey personnel have travelled extensively across the country, sharing the findings and reflecting on their implications in a large and varied number of settings.
The 2008 survey provides an important update on Canadian youth that is particularly important in light of the dramatic changes in technology in recent years, and the ensuing impact on information and personal and collective life. As in the past, the sample consisted of some 3,500 young people between the ages of 15 and 19 who were in high school or its equivalents. Multi‑stage stratified and cluster sampling procedures were used to select one class in approximately 200 schools across the country. A carefully constructed questionnaire that took approximately 30 to 40 minutes to complete was filled out in classroom settings under the supervision of a guidance counsellor or a designated alternate.
The survey contributes to data on Canadian young people spanning almost 25 years – 1984 through 2008. Findings were shared first of all with the participating schools through the new book, The Emerging Millennials: How Canada's Newest Generation is Responding to Change and Choice,that was released in late April of 2009. A capsule of the key findings is available in the booklet, 10 Things We All Need to Know About Today's Teens, co-authored by Bibby and Penner. In addition, Project Teen Canada personnel, led by Bibby and Penner, are continuing to make themselves available to explain and discuss the findings. Once again, the Project Teen Canada 2008 survey has been greeted with considerable enthusiasm by a wide range of groups and individuals, led by educators, youth leaders, academics, and the media, along with parents and young people themselves.
Sharing the Findings...and Data
In the mid-1980s, highly regarded Professor Kenneth Westhues of the University of Waterloo made the observation that "Bibby is assembling a national treasure.” Some 25 years later, his "prophecy" - based on only the first three adult surveys - has been borne out.
It is important that people be able to tap into that treasure. And so, over the next few months, the detailed codebooks providing all of the survey items and item by item results will be posted on this website, along with the raw data sets in SPSS-usable form.
The first of the survey materials have been posted. It is only the beginning. All that is asked is that the source of the data be acknowledged when it is used publicly: Reginald W. Bibby, "Project Canada 1975 survey," etc. or, where multiple surveys are used, "Reginald W. Bibby, Project Canada Survey Series."
We hope that you find the findings and data to be interesting, informative, and stimulating!
Items and Responses
The Data Sets in SPSS Coming Soon
The Project Teen Canada
Codebooks & Data Sets
Not Coming Soon Project Canada 2010
Rodney Stark, that inspiring and provocative colleague, reminded a group of us during a visit to Lethbridge a number of years ago, “There is no shortage of data; there is a shortage of good ideas.” Having gathered my fair share of data over the years, I need some time to think...in the words of that provocative and articulate Rhodes Scholar, Kris Kristofferson, "There are lots of pretty thoughts that I've not thunk." So, there was no Project Canada 2010 survey...maybe a Project Canada 2015 survey - very tempting because, after the short layoff, such a survey would provide material spanning 35 years. If I am still on the planet, I'll try to set it up....
In the meantime, I am not going away - just reading, thinking and writing. Look for some of those forthcoming "pretty thoughts," in some detailed looks at teens and adults, including my new, 2011 book, "Beyond the Gods – and Back."