ESFRI objects in the social sciences field

ESS ERIC (European Social Survey)

The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically-driven cross-national survey that has been conducted across Europe since its establishment in 2001. Every two years, face-to-face interviews are conducted with cross-sectional samples. Estonia became a member of the ESS family in 2004.

The survey measures the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour patterns of diverse populations in more than thirty nations. The main aims of the ESS are as follows:

  • to chart stability and change in the social structure, conditions, and attitudes in Europe and to interpret how Europe’s social, political, and moral fabric is changing
  • to achieve and spread higher standards of rigour in cross-national research
  • to introduce soundly-based indicators of national progress
  • to undertake and facilitate the training of European researchers in comparative quantitative measurement and analysis
  • to improve the visibility and outreach of science data on among policy makers and the wider public

The ESS database with its large number of metadata files is available free of charge for non-commercial use and can be downloaded from this website after a short registration process. The ESS website also allows the online analyses of data. In 2005 the ESS was the winner of the Descartes Prize for Research & Science Communication. In 2013 the ESS was awarded European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) status, and in 2015 the ESS in Estonia was elected the best science educator project in Estonia.

The ESS has a large and growing number of users. It stands out as a source of valuable resource, especially due to its high quality standards, its simple and open access, and the increased capacity for international comparison, from which many academic and non-academic users benefit immensely. The high quality standards, country coverage, and increasing longevity have contributed to impressive levels of academic impact. For academic purposes, the ESS is rated at gold standard for services of this type.

The ESS is also notable as a teaching resource, one that has been used in many non-academic domains. ESS data is a powerful tool when it comes to demonstrating particular problems in a given country, and can be a useful resource for indicator construction and policy monitoring.

See more about the ESS:
Impact study:
ESS website:

Contact: Dr Mare Ainsaar
Senior Researcher, ESS Coordinator in Estonia
Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu
Phone: +372 737 5936