What’s new in the 2011 Australian Census?
The 2011 Census is over as far as filling in the forms are concerned. Now the ABS is in full swing collecting those forms and then processing the data, and then it will be our turn, converting that data into knowledge and updating all of our Census based websites. So what new output can you expect to see from the 2011 Census?
So what’s new for 2011?
Back on May 23rd, the ABS quietly released the Census Dictionary for 2011. While not a recommended bedtime read, the Dictionary is a really important document, as it tells you exactly what information you can get from a Census, so it will be very widely used for the next 5 years.
As you may have heard, the 2011 Census form includes no new questions when compared to 2006. But that doesn’t mean all the output will be the same. So what’s new for 2011?
Despite the questions being the same, there are some differences in the data you will be able to get, as some questions are being processed differently, while others are having the data made available as a standard output where previously it was difficult to get.
- Grandparent Families – For the first time users will be able to easily get information on families where the main relationship is grandparent-grandchild. While some data were always available on this it was difficult to derive and perhaps not so well coded. This will be useful for looking at extended family situations, which are a growing family type.
- Educational Institution: Attendee Status – This combines information about age and full/part time attendance to provide a succinct profile of educational attendance in the area.
- Equivalised Income – This measure of income, which adjusts for household size and composition to enable easy comparison between eg. lone person households and families with children, becomes a standard Census output. It’s generally considered a better way of comparing incomes between areas than either individual or household income.
- Labour Force Status of Parents/Partners – This is one of the most common requests for additional data we get at .id – Families by whether or not they have one, both or neither parent employed. Previously it’s been a data order from the ABS but from 2011 will become a standard output. This is great for understanding welfare dependency and children’s socio-economic situation.
- Supported Accommodation – For identifying the secondary homeless population (see my article “Are Homeless People Counted in the Census?“. This should provide much better data on the population occupying short term supported assisted accommodation. This is not in the standard output but for the first time should be available as a special request.
- Same-Sex couples – More readily accessible information on whether couple households are opposite-sex or same sex should be available. Note that this is not the same as information on sexual orientation, however, which is not collected in the Census.
In addition there are all the usual changes, such as updated classifications for birthplace, language, religion and ancestry, and different ranges for incomes and mortgage payments, to allow for inflation etc. For profile.id clients, .id takes care of all these differences, ensuring that you can get accurate time series for your area.
More detailed information can be found in the Census Dictionary, which includes a copy of the Census Household Form for 2011. For the moment it’s only available on the website. I’ve been reliably informed by the ABS that they are going to put together a PDF for those who would like to print out a full copy, but there will be no fully bound and printed versions of the Census Dictionary for sale this Census.
The first release of data from the August 9th, 2011 Census is expected to be around June 2012 and second release with the more complex Census topics a few months after that. We’ll keep you up to date with developments in this blog – so you might like to subscribe or follow us on twitter (see above).
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