About CFS

The Consumer Finances and Socio-economic Survey (CFS) 2003/04 that was conducted by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is the eighth in a multipurpose household survey series that began over 50 years ago. The CFS data series helps to study long-term changes in the living standards of the household sector in the country. The key objective of the CFS series has been to obtain information at specified time intervals on the socio-economic conditions of the household population to update and further improve the household information base in the country over time.

The first survey was conducted in 1953 and since then, surveys were conducted in 1963, 1973, 1978/79, 1981/82, 1986/87, 1996/97 and 2003/04. Of the eight surveys, the first three were known as Consumer Finances Surveys and the duration of the fieldwork varied from 5 weeks in 1953 to 2 months in 1973. With the survey of 1978/79, the scope of the survey was expanded to cover a wider spectrum of socio-economic data to reflect the expansion of household economic activities in parallel with the macro-economic changes that took place in response to the 1977 economic liberalisation policy package. Accordingly, the surveys in the series were renamed Consumer Finances and Socio Economic Surveys. The field enumeration since then was also extended to span the 12 months of a calendar year.

The first three surveys were conducted at intervals of 10 years. The economic and social transformation in the country since the introduction of the 1977 economic policy package convinced policy makers to conduct the CFS at shorter time intervals of once every 5 years, and the fourth survey was conducted, as planned, in 1978/79. However, the fifth survey was conducted 3 years later to assess the rapid socio-economic changes after the economic liberalisation of 1977. Although the sixth survey was conducted after 5 years, as planned, in 1986/87, the surveys that followed could not be conducted at the planned frequency owing to the security situation in the country. Consequently, the last two surveys were conducted at intervals of 10 and 7 years, respectively.

The geographical coverage of the respective surveys varied. The first five surveys up to 1981/82 covered the entire country. Due to civil disturbances in the country, the next two surveys could not cover the eight districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Killinochchi, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara in the Northern and Eastern provinces. However, two key factors, namely, the Census of Population and Housing (Census) 2001 conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics, after a lapse of 20 years since the previous Census of 1981, provided the required sampling frame and second, the ceasefire between the Government and the LTTE since February 2002 provided the opportunity to conduct the survey in these two provinces in a relatively peaceful environment. Thus, only the three districts of Killinochchi, Mannar and Mullaitivu in the Northern Province could not be included in this survey due to non-availability of a sampling frame from the Census 2001, and the CFS 2003/04 was conducted in all three districts of the Eastern province and two districts of the Northern province, thereby expanding its coverage to most of the country, once again. With this expansion, the CFS 2003/04 sample is estimated to represent 98 per cent of all households in the country.