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The ABS produces a number of analytical reports that provide information on social and economic conditions and progress in Australia, to governments and the community. The reports draw together data and analysis from within the ABS, and from a range of sources. They include analysis of current circumstances, changes to circumstances over time, ways that different groups of people have been affected by change, and the various factors that may have accounted for observed trends. In addition, analyses explore the interrelationships between the economic, social and environmental aspects of life.
The following flagship publications were released during 2007–08:
MEASURES OF AUSTRALIA'S PROGRESS (MAP): SUMMARY INDICATORS
Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP): Summary Indicators (cat. no. 1383.0.55.001) is part of the suite of Measures of Australia’s Progress products produced by the ABS. This suite includes Measures of Australia’s Progress (cat. no. 1370.0), which presents a detailed set of indicators every five years, and Measures of Australia’s Progress: At a Glance(cat. no. 1383.0.55.002), a small summary booklet released annually. The MAP products are designed to inform Australians of changes in their lives and the human and natural environment.
MAP: Summary Indicators provides a summary of measures relating to the 14 headline dimensions of progress. Where available, the summary presents the headline indicators at the national level, and a brief summary discussion about the measure and associated trends. Topics include:
Data are drawn from ABS and non-ABS sources. The 2008 issue was released in April, and, for the first time, included tables containing state and territory level data for each of the indicators.
AUSTRALIAN ECONOMIC INDICATORS
Australian Economic Indicators (AEI) (cat. no. 1350.0) is a monthly publication, drawing together ABS and other data, to provide a compendium of key national, state and international economic time series. It also contains feature articles. This monthly flagship publication was first released in 1991 and has remained consistently popular with users.
AUSTRALIAN SOCIAL TRENDS
Australian Social Trends (AST) (cat. no. 4102.0) is an annual publication containing articles on contemporary social issues, as well as a range of social indicators that present an overview of some key social trends in the various areas of social concern (such as health, work, and family and community). AST brings together information from a range of areas to address complex social issues. The 2007 issue, released in August 2007, included the following articles:
Industry level multifactor productivity estimates are now planned for release on an annual basis (see ABS cat. no. 5260.0.55.001 and 5260.0.55.002). These estimates provide additional value to the already established market sector productivity estimates released annually through the Australian National Accounts.
MEASURING HUMAN CAPITAL FLOWS
The human capital flows release (see ABS cat. no. 1351.0.55.023) adds to the ongoing development of the human capital work program within the ABS, with a longer-term view to provide additional input into analyses of productivity, the returns to education, and other aspects of economic and social returns to human capital.
The ABS Census Data Enhancement project aims to enhance the value of Census of Population and Housing data, by creating from it a 5% sample of the Australian population that can be linked between the 2006 Census and subsequent censuses. The resulting Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset (SLCD) will have potential to provide information on changing patterns of population and housing over time. Analysing these data in a confidential environment provides an opportunity for the ABS to inform government on areas of need, deliver evidence to underpin the development of policy and programs, and assist in their evaluation.
The project has proceeded in line with the statement of intention published on the ABS website in August 2005. Work in 2007–08 focused on assessing matching methodologies, undertaking data matching, validating results and developing options for selection of the SLCD sample in future Censuses.
A number of quality studies have also been undertaken in conjunction with this project, to be used by the ABS to plan future linkages across census data and with other datasets, subject to funding availability. Studies to date have focused on Indigenous mortality data, migration, census management and undercoverage in the labour force survey.
More detail on these analyses is outlined in the Information Paper, Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update (cat. no. 2062.0).
OTHER ANALYTICAL WORK IN 2007–08
The ABS regularly reviews the methodology used to produce statistics, to enhance the usefulness of data and to encourage and inform decision making amongst governments and the community. Analytical work undertaken by the ABS provides opportunities to incorporate improvements and new approaches, where appropriate. In 2007–08, the ABS undertook a range of analytical work, including:
CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING: SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDEXES FOR AREAS
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001) is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2006 Census information. The indexes can be used to explore different aspects of socio-economic conditions by geographic areas. For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA score, which shows how disadvantaged that area is compared with other areas in Australia. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions of people living in an area, and the indexes take into account a range of factors in determining socio-economic conditions. SEIFA was released as a suite of products, comprised of the SEIFA indexes (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001), the Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0), and a technical paper, Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)—Technical Paper, 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0.55.001).
REFINING THE STRATIFICATION FOR THE ESTABLISHED HOUSE PRICE INDEX
The ABS publishes quarterly estimates of the change in the price of established houses in Australia, which are based on a method that has developed over time and always involved some form of stratification. The established House Price Index (HPI) methodology is currently based on attributes broadly defined as the structural, locational and neighbourhood characteristics of suburbs. Analysis indicated that a refined stratification method could provide enhanced measurement of the pure price evolution of the housing stock. This analysis was reviewed at the June 2008 meeting of the Methodology Advisory Committee, with the aim of dissemination later in 2008.
DRIVERS OF INNOVATION IN AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES
Innovation is widely recognised as a major source of trend multi-factor productivity growth, economic growth, and ultimately, growth in gross domestic product per capita. A program of ABS research is currently investigating innovation in Australian businesses, including identification of the drivers of innovation, and analysis of skills shortages which hamper innovation. In 2008, findings to date of this research program were submitted to the Review of the National Innovation System, to assist with policy deliberations. It is anticipated that a number of ABS Research Papers will be released in the future as the research program continues.