|The Northern Ireland Family Expenditure Survey (NIFES) was conducted in Northern Ireland from 1967-1998, and was the counterpart to the Family Expenditure Survey (FES), which was conducted annually in Great Britain from 1957-2001 (see under GN 33057). The FES/NIFES provided reliable data on expenditure and income in relation to household characteristics. The results of the survey show how expenditure patterns of different kinds of households vary, and the extent to which individual members of a household contribute to the household income. Although originally commissioned to provide expenditure details for the calculation of weights for the Retail Price Index, the FES/NIFES collected much additional information was also collected on the characteristics of co-operating households and the incomes of their members. It thus became a multi-purpose survey, and provided a unique fund of important economic and social data.
From 1968 the Great Britain FES incorporated a sample drawn from the NIFES to become the UK FES. The FES was replaced in 2001 by a new survey series, the Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS) (see under GN 33334), covering the whole of the UK. The EFS is an amalgamation of the previous National Food Survey (NFS) (see under GN 33071) and UK FES.
This schedule was taken at the main interview. Information for most of the questions was obtained from the head of household or housewife, but certain questions of a more individual character were put to every spender aged 15 or over (or 16 or over from 1973 onwards). Until the introduction of the community charge, information on rateable value and rate poundage was obtained from the appropriate local authority, as was information on whether the address was within a smokeless zone. Information was collected about the household, the sex and age of each member, and also details about the type and size of the household accommodation. The main part of the questionnaire related to expenditure both of a household and individual nature, but the questions were mainly confined to expenses of a recurring nature, e.g.:
- Household: housing costs, payment to Gas and Electricity Boards and companies, telephone charges, licences and television rental
- Individual: motor vehicles, season tickets for transport, life and accident insurances, payments through a bank, instalments, refund of expenses by employer, expenditure claimed by self-employed persons as business expenses for tax purposes, welfare foods, education grants and fees
Data were collected for each household spender. Apart from page 1, the schedule was concerned with income, National Insurance contributions and income tax. Income of a child not classed as a spender was obtained from one or other of his parents and entered on the parent's questionnaire. Information collected included: employment status and recent absences from work, earnings of an employee, self-employed earnings, National Insurance contributions, pensions and other regular allowances, occasional benefits - social security benefits and other types, investment income, miscellaneous earnings of a 'once-only' character, tax paid directly to Inland Revenue or refunded, income of a child.
Each diary covered fourteen days. Each household member aged 15 or over (or 16 or over from 1973 onwards) was asked to record all expenditure made during the 14 days.
The NIFES was identical to the UK FES and therefore used the same questionnaires and documentation. However, starting in 1988, a voluntary question on religious denomination was asked of those aged 16 and over in Northern Ireland.