EVENS: survey documenting the lives of ethnic and religious minority people during Covid-19

NCRM news
Laia Bécares, University of Sussex
EVENS logotype and strap lineEVENS logotype and strap line

February 16th sees the launch of the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) survey: Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS) – which will be conducted by Ipsos-MORI. EVENS will enable an in depth understanding of ethnic minority people’s experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, identification of inequalities, direction as to where interventions are needed, and intelligence on how to mitigate future differential impacts of such crises. 

No other surveys comprehensively capture the lives and experiences of ethnic minority people in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic. Of the studies collecting data on the impacts of Covid-19 on society, only two have a boosted ethnic minority sample [the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and Understanding Society]. Despite their boosted samples, these surveys have relatively small numbers of ethnic minority respondents, and neither of them cover the constructs needed to fully understand the extent, and drivers, of ethnic inequalities during and post COVID-19, including experiences of racial discrimination.

EVENS will be novel in its content (with modules on ethnicity, migration, religion, experiences of racial discrimination, socioeconomics, sexual orientation and gender identity, Black Lives Matter, housing and neighbourhood, political engagement, health, healthcare, attitudes towards the policy, and caring, among others), as well as in its methods.

EVENS will employ a hard-to-capture data collection methodology that will use specialised recruitment strategies into the survey. With a strong involvement of a wide range of Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise partners, who have contributed to the development of the survey’s content, EVENS will recruit 17,000 ethnic minority participants through targeted advertising and digital campaigns. We will recruit participants from the five major ethnic minority groups (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Black African (sub-Saharan and other)), as well as ethnic minority groups that have not been targeted for previous surveys, including Arab, Roma, Gypsy and Irish Traveller, and Chinese groups. In addition, we will enlist sample members from among the networks of eligible responding persons.  Based on desired sample sizes of each ethnic minority group disaggregated by age, sex, and region, we will closely monitor data collection and target recruitment strategies using innovative R-indicators (Bianchi, Shlomo, Schouten, Da Silva and Skinner 2019) and a responsive survey design. 

The innovative survey design will be supplemented by a probabilistic sample consisting of Ipsos-MORI panel members. The panel (General Population Sample consisting of predominantly White British people) will be used as the comparator against the ethnic minority sample.  The total target sample size is 20,000.  Data will be collected via an online survey form, adapted for completion on multiple devices, with the option of telephone interviews (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI)) via a dedicated phone line with call-backs for those who are not able to complete the survey online. The survey will also include 13 translations of the questionnaire.   

The non-probability nature of the sample requires statistical methods to compensate for the selection bias. These methods rely on probability reference samples that will be used to incorporate ‘randomisation’ into the non-probability sample and allow for statistical inference. Possible reference samples include the supplemental probabilistic panel members, the Labour Force Survey and the Crime Victimisation Survey. We will use a quasi-randomisation approach based on a propensity score adjustment (Valliant and Dever 2011, Chen, Li and Wu 2020).  We estimate the propensity of participation into EVENS through logistic regression modelling where the control variables explain both the participation and key target variables, and we account for the design weights of the probability reference samples. Based on the propensity scores, we then carry out a full post-stratification by ethnic group, age, sex and region to benchmark to population totals 
EVENS is a challenging but exciting new survey with an unprecedented potential. Findings will impact debate and interventions to address alarming and persistent ethnic inequalities. 

EVENS is developed by the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE), and funded by the ESRC within the remit of the project ‘Exploring Ethnic and Racial Inequality in a Time of Crisis.’

EVENS on twitter @EVENSurvey
EVENS on Instagram @EVENSurvey


Natalie Shlomo is Professor of Social Statistics in the Social Statistics Department, School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester.  She is a survey statistician with interests in adaptive survey designs, data linkage and integration, statistical disclosure control and small area estimation.  https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/natalie.shlomo.html

Dr Laia Becares is Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Wellbeing at the University of Sussex. Her research interests are in studying the pathways by which the discrimination and marginalisation of people and places lead to social and health inequalities across the life course, with a specific focus on racism and heterosexism as systems of oppression. Laia Becares Profile | University of Sussex

Neema Begum is a Research Associate in the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) at the University of Manchester. Her research is on ethnic minority voting behaviour and political attitudes.

Dan Ellingworth is currently working as a Research Associate in the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity, concentrating on survey methodology and analysis. He previously worked in criminal justice research evaluating programmes relating to offender rehabilitation and domestic violence perpetrator programmes and survey approaches to criminal victimisation.

Dr Nissa Finney is the CoDE Lead for the EVENS project. Her research is concerned with ethnicity, inequalities, place and residential experience; Nissa is an advocate of mixed methods approaches. Nissa is Reader in Human Geography at the University of St Andrews. https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/geography-sustainable-development/people/nf42

Dr Dharmi Kapadia is Q-Step Lecturer in Sociology at The University of Manchester. She is an applied quantitative researcher with interests in ethnic inequalities in mental health services, mental illness stigma and social network analysis. 

James Nazroo is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is Deputy Director for the ESRC Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) and his research focuses on ethnic inequalities in health and the role that social and economic inequalities, underpinned by racism, has in shaping these. www.manchester.ac.uk/research/james.nazroo 

Harry Taylor is a research associate at CoDE and PhD candidate at the University of Manchester. His research concerns ethnic inequalities in hearing health.

Bianchi, A., Shlomo, N. Schouten, B., Da Silva, D. and Skinner, C. (2019) Estimation of Response Propensities and   Indicators of Representative Response Using Population-Level Information.  Survey Methodology,  45(2), 217-247.

Chen, Y., Li, P. and Wu, C. (2020) Doubly Robust Inference with Nonprobability Survey Samples. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 115 (532), 2011-2021.  

Valliant, R. and Dever J. A. (2011) Estimating Propensity Adjustments for Volunteer Web Surveys. Sociological Methods and Research, 40, 105-137.