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Uses of HES data
These differences are explored in more detail in chapter 5.
USES OF HES DATA
Uses of HES results have been many and varied. Examples of these include: updating the weighting pattern of the Consumer Price Index; conducting standard of living studies; evaluating government policy; and market research.
Updating the Consumer Price Index
HES results are used, and the survey is primarily designed, for updating the weighting pattern of the Consumer Price Index, or CPI as it is commonly known. The CPI is a measure of changes over time in the cost of a ‘basket’ of goods and services representative of household expenditure. It is often used to adjust (or assist in adjusting) payments such as social security pensions, benefits and allowances, superannuation payments, business contracts and rental agreements. HES results are used to revise the categories of goods and services included in the CPI basket as well as to adjust the relative importance, or weight, given to each.
Standard of living studies
Levels and composition of household expenditure are used to indicate standard of living. For example, households which spend more per person, or spend proportionately less on ‘necessities’, can be considered to have higher standards of living than other households. HES results have been used in studies which analyse the relative standard of living of different household types such as those on low incomes, pensioner households, lone parent families, rural households and recently arrived migrant households.
Evaluation of government policy
HES results have been used to show how different types of households are affected by government policy. Past studies have evaluated effects on different household types of social security cash pensions and allowances, income tax and indirect taxes such as sales tax. The publication The Effects of Government Benefits and Taxes on Household Income (Cat. no. 6537.0) provides data on the net effect of some government activity on household income. This study is sometimes referred to as the ‘fiscal incidence study’.
Policy changes have also been evaluated using HES data. Examples of areas in which change has been evaluated include first home buyers’ assistance and education assistance. Some care is needed in the interpretation of such studies because policy change may result in changes in household behaviour.
HES results provide information on the characteristics of households associated with expenditure on different goods and services. Researchers have used this information to better target the marketing of products.
USING THIS PUBLICATION
Appropriate use and interpretation of HES results rely on a knowledge of what information was collected, how it was collected and how the information was used to produce final estimates. The User Guide covers these topics in the next three chapters: Concepts and Definitions; Survey Methodology; and Survey Design and Estimation. The fifth chapter, Data Analysis, discusses the use of HES results in selected analyses and the last chapter, Sources of Further Information, lists HES products and services available from the ABS.