History of Opinion Polling in Sri Lanka (Presented in HK at WAPOR Asia Conference)

Posted: July 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Authors: Pradeep N. Peiris & Joseph Thavaraja

                        (Social Indicator, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka)


Sri Lanka does not possess an entrenched tradition or a history of Opinion Polling as many other developed nations. The Department of Census and Statistics plays the dominant role as the regular survey researcher but it has a state centric origin and is being described as the central statistical agency in Sri Lanka supplying data needed for planning, policy formulation and monitor the progress of various government policies. As a result, it largely caters to the Government and its affiliated institutions. 

In addition, Market Researchers (despite not having a long history and an established culture), too play a significant role in Sri Lankan opinion research. However, most of their research focuses on specific requirements of their clients and are not available to the public. Sri Lankan Universities have been involved in implementing surveys on various social and political issues from time to time but due to the lack of resources most of their polling initiatives have been “ad hoc”. The paper shall strive to assess the overall status of opinion polling in Sri Lanka while also attempting to trace the early stages in coordinated social survey attempts (to address the lacunae in social research) such as the establishment of Marga Institute in 1972, to the more recent social survey agencies as Social Indicator (SI) and SPARC (Social Policy Analysis and Research Centre).


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