Taiwan Social Change Survey
A Brief Introduction to the Taiwan Social Change Survey
by: Yang-chih Fu and Ying-Hwa Chang
Taiwan has witnessed profound social
changes since the lift of martial law in the 1980s.
The Taiwan Social Change Survey (TSCS) tracks the long-term
trends of these changes and provides insight into them
through national representative survey data on various
topics. This website introduces the survey project and
aims to enhance communication between the project team
and general users. The website also serves to better
disseminate all the TSCS survey data, in hope of making
the best use of these data and contributing to the broader
In the mid-1980s, the National Science
Council initiated the idea of archiving baseline information
about Taiwanese society by surveying the general adult
population through rigorous sampling designs. The result
has been an interdisciplinary research project that
reveals Taiwan's political, economic, social,
and cultural changes, all through carefully designed
questionnaire interviews. Since the first nation-wide
survey completed in 1985, this long-term, cross-sectional
survey project has followed 5-year cycles that rotate
selective modules in order to capture the time-series
of social changes. As of 2017, the TSCS has accumulated 60 surveys.
Many of these surveys carry repetitive modules that have run through up
to five cycles of survey operations, which enable researchers to further
understand social change from longitudinal perspectives.
With approximately 125,000 face-to-face interviews completed over the past 30 years,
the TSCS has become one of the largest survey series among all of the general social surveys
in the world.
The TSCS has been based at the Academia
Sinica, jointly operated by the Institute of Sociology
and the Center for Survey Research. All survey data
have been archived in both institutes and are available
for free and instant download from their respective
websites to the general public. Through this generous
policy of data release, scholars and students have been
able to employ the data for their research and have
made significant contributions to the scholarly world.
As of the end of 2017, TSCS data had been the basis for
at least 597 conference papers, 608 journal articles,
187 book chapters, 431 master's theses, and 51 doctoral dissertations.
In addition to following the data release
policy and an open-door policy that asks for survey
modules and items from domestic scholars, the TSCS team
also cooperates with the international community in
designing international comparative surveys. In 1996,
the TSCS participated in a three-society, comparative
survey project with China and South Korea. Since 2001,
the TSCS has been an active member of the International
Social Survey Programme (ISSP), having served in questionnaire
drafting groups, various method groups, the Methodology
Committee, and the Standing Committee. In 2003, TSCS
launched the East Asian Social Survey (EASS), along
with the Japanese General Social Survey (JGSS) and the
Korean General Social Survey (KGSS). The EASS later
included the Chinese General Social Survey and the Hong
Kong Social Indicator Survey and became a major regional
In the wave of the globalization of social surveys, not only will the TSCS continue to cover its major national research agenda, but it also will aim to present and demonstrate the characteristics of Taiwanese social changes by incorporating both ISSP and EASS modules into the surveys. Such a combination of local, regional,
and global research interests should preserve the grand
tradition of the TSCS while it expands into the international
Website last updated: Feb 5, 2018
 Smith, T.W., Kim, J., Koch, A.,
& Park, A. (2006). Social Science Research and the General Social Surveys.
Comparative Sociology, 5(1), 33-43.