4130.0.55.002 - Housing Mobility and Conditions, 2007–08  
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1 This publication presents statistics compiled from the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) on Australian housing mobility and dwelling conditions. This data was collected in the 2007-08 SIH, in addition to the comprehensive range of housing occupancy and costs information regularly collected in every SIH cycle and released in Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia (cat. no. 4130.0).

2 The ABS household survey program provides for the inclusion of an expanded range of housing data in every third SIH cycle i.e. every six years, to provide periodic updates of the broader housing circumstances of Australians. The first collection of additional housing topics occurred in 2007-08.

3 The additional housing topics in the 2007-08 SIH were determined through consultation with major users of Australian housing statistics. Potential topics were prioritised and tested before the final selection of topics was made. A similar process is expected to be followed for the 2013-14 SIH, which will next include additional housing topics.

4 In 2007-08 the additional housing topics include housing mobility, dwelling condition, home purchase for first home buyers, loan financing for owners with a mortgage and rental arrangements. A comprehensive list of the additional data items is included in Appendix 1.

5 Collection of the additional housing data in the 2007-08 SIH enables comparisons of non-Indigenous results, with similar items collected in respect of Indigenous Australians in the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS).

6 The Survey of Income and Housing, Australia: User Guide, 2007-08 (cat. no. 6553.0) is available to assist users evaluate and interpret results from this survey.

7 The SIH was conducted continuously from 1994-95 to 1997-98, and then in 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2005-06, and 2007-08. The 2007-08 SIH collected information from a sample of 9345 households over the period August 2007 to June 2008. Future cycles of the SIH will be conducted every two years.

8 Other collections conducted by the ABS which cover housing are:

  • Census of Population and Housing, 2006
  • General Social Survey, 2006
  • Australian Housing Survey, 1994 and 1999

9 Collections conducted by the ABS which cover housing for Indigenous Australians are:
  • Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey, 1999, 2001 and 2006
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002 and 2008

10 Care should be taken when comparing data from the different sources due to the different methodologies used in these collections.


11 The concepts and definitions relating to the statistics in this publication are described in the following section. Other definitions are included in the Glossary.


12 The household is the basic unit of analysis in this publication. A household consists of one or more persons, at least one of whom is at least 15 years of age, usually resident in the same private dwelling. The persons in a household may or may not be related. They must live wholly within one dwelling.

13 The household is adopted as the basic unit of analysis because it is assumed that sharing of the use of goods and services occurs at this level. If smaller units, say persons, are adopted, then it is difficult to know how to attribute to individual household members the use of shared items such as food, accommodation and household goods. Intra-household transfers, however, are excluded. For example, if one member of the household were to pay board to another member of the same household then this is not considered as an increase in the amount of income or housing costs of the household. If such transfers were to be included there would be double counting.

Income unit and person

14 Although the household has been adopted as the basic unit of analysis in this publication, person and income unit variables have been included where analysis is more appropriately conducted at these levels. These variables include income unit tenure type, perceptions of safety and access to transport (both person level).

15 An income unit is a single person or a group of related persons within a household, whose command over income is assumed to be shared. Income sharing is assumed to take place within married (registered or defacto) couples, and between parents and their dependent children.

16 Data for persons relate to people aged 15 years and over who usually reside in the household.

Housing mobility

17 Housing mobility refers to the movement of people due to a change in their place of usual residence. Such changes may result from changes in tenure arrangements, such as from rental to home-ownership, or moving from one geographic location to another for various housing, employment or lifestyle reasons.

18 The 2007-08 SIH collected information from all persons aged 15 years and over on the length of time in current dwelling, number of times moved, details of previous dwelling, and reasons for last move. The housing mobility tables presented in this publication focus on the experiences of the household reference person. Other persons present in the household may have led different housing mobility experiences to the reference person, e.g. due to changes in the composition of the household over time.

Condition of dwelling

19 The condition of a dwelling can have a significant influence on the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants. It is also significant in determining the value of the dwelling. In this publication the term is used to signify the extent to which the cladding, roofing and fittings of the house have been maintained in their original condition.

20 Repairs and maintenance refers to work undertaken with the purpose of either preventing deterioration or repairing some aspect of the dwelling back to its original condition. Examples include:
  • replacing a fence with a similar type of fence
  • repairing broken roof tiles
  • reroofing a tile roof with new tiles
  • repainting

21 Alterations and additions change or improve the original condition of the dwelling or its surrounding land. Examples include:
  • changing the position of internal walls in a dwelling
  • renovating a kitchen or bathroom
  • installing built in robes
  • adding an additional room
  • installing a spa bath
  • installing a swimming pool
  • replacing a wooden fence with a metal one
  • building a garage

Tenure type and landlord type

22 The concept of housing tenure is based on the type of legal right of the occupant/s to occupy the dwelling. Tenure is determined according to whether the unit (household, income unit, or person, where applicable) owns the dwelling outright, owns the dwelling but has a mortgage or loan secured against it, is paying rent to live in the dwelling or has some other arrangement to occupy the dwelling.

23 In this publication, tenure information is provided at the household and income unit levels. Person level tenure was also enumerated in the 2007-08 SIH and is available on the CURF. Tenure information at household, income unit and person levels enables users to analyse within household tenure arrangements, such as subletting and boarding. This detailed tenure data will also be available from future SIHs.

24 Owners are divided into two categories - owners with mortgages and owners without mortgages. A household's tenure type is owner with a mortgage if there is any outstanding mortgage or loan secured against the dwelling. This mortgage or loan may have been initially obtained primarily for either the purchase or the building of the dwelling, or for undertaking alterations or additions, or for some other purpose such as the purchase of a vehicle or an investment property. However, mortgage payments where the initial purpose of the loan was not primarily for housing are not treated as housing costs. A household's tenure type is owner without a mortgage if there are no loans or mortgages secured against the dwelling.

25 Renters are occupants who pay money as rent to another person or organisation, referred to as the landlord, in return for being allowed to occupy the dwelling. Renters can be further classified according to type of landlord. The landlord may be a relative or an unrelated person in another dwelling, or can be a real estate agency, a state or territory housing authority, a community organisation, a trust, or an employer.


26 Household income consists of all current receipts, whether monetary or in kind, that are received by the household or by individual members of the household, and which are available for, or intended to support, current consumption.

27 Income includes receipts from:
  • wages and salaries and other receipts from employment (whether from an employer or own incorporated enterprise), including income provided as part of salary sacrifice and/or salary package arrangements
  • profit/loss from own unincorporated business (including partnerships)
  • net investment income (interest, rent, dividends, royalties)
  • government pensions and allowances
  • private transfers (e.g. superannuation, workers' compensation, income from annuities, child support, and financial support received from family members not living in the same household).

28 Receipts of family tax benefit are treated as income, regardless of whether they are received fortnightly or as a lump sum. The aged persons' savings bonus and self-funded retirees' supplementary bonus, paid as part of the introduction of The New Tax System in 2000-01, are regarded as capital transfers as they were designed to help retired people maintain the value of their savings and investments following the introduction of the GST. However, the one-off payment to older Australians paid in 2000-01, 2005-06, and 2007-08, the one-off payment to families paid since 2003-04 and the one-off payments to carers paid since 2003-04 are included as income as they were primarily a supplement to existing income support payments. The maternity payment introduced in July 2004 is also included as income.

Weekly income

29 Income is collected using a number of different reporting periods, such as the whole financial year for own unincorporated business and investment income, and the usual payment for a period close to time of interview for wages and salaries, other sources of private income and government pensions and allowances. The income reported is divided by the number of weeks in the reporting period. Estimates of weekly income in this publication therefore do not refer to a given week within the reference year of the survey.

Gross income

30 Gross income is the sum of the income from all sources before income tax and the Medicare levy have been deducted. Prior to 2005-06, family tax benefit paid through the tax system or as a lump sum was excluded from gross income for practical reasons. In 2005-06 and 2007-08 these payments have been included in gross income.

Disposable income

31 Disposable income better represents the economic resources available to meet the needs of households. It is derived by deducting estimates of personal income tax and the Medicare levy from gross income. The Medicare levy surcharge was calculated for the first time in 2007-08 and was also deducted from gross income when calculating disposable income.

32 Income tax and Medicare levy payments are estimated for all households using taxation criteria for 2007-08 and the income and other characteristics of household members reported in the survey.

33 Prior to 2005-06 the derivation of disposable income also included the addition of family tax benefit paid through the tax system or as a lump sum by Centrelink since for practical reasons it was not included in the gross income estimates.

Equivalised disposable income

34 Analyses by income quintile in this publication use equivalised disposable income rather than gross or disposable income since it enables comparison of the relative economic wellbeing of households of different size and composition. Equivalised disposable income is calculated by adjusting disposable income by the application of an equivalence scale. This adjustment reflects the requirement for a larger household to have a higher level of income to achieve the same standard of living as a smaller household. Where disposable income is negative, it is set to zero equivalised disposable income.

35 When household income is adjusted according to an equivalence scale, the equivalised income can be viewed as an indicator of the economic resources available to a standardised household. For a lone person household, it is equal to income received. For a household comprising more than one person, equivalised income is an indicator of the household income that would be required by a lone person household in order to enjoy the same level of economic wellbeing as the household in question.

36 For more information on the use of equivalence scales, readers are referred to Appendix 3 in Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 6523.0).

Lowest income decile

37 While equivalised income generally provides a useful indicator of economic wellbeing, there are some circumstances which present particular difficulties. Some households report extremely low and even negative income in the survey, which places them well below the safety net of income support provided by social security pensions and allowances. Households may under report their incomes in the survey at all income levels, including low income households. However, households can correctly report low levels of income if they incur losses in their unincorporated business or have negative returns from their other investments.

38 Studies of income and expenditure reported in HES surveys have shown that such households in the bottom income decile and with negative gross incomes tend to have expenditure levels that are comparable to those of households with higher income levels (and slightly above the average expenditures recorded for the fifth income decile). This suggests that these households have access to economic resources such as wealth, or that the instance of low or negative income is temporary, perhaps reflecting business or investment start up. Other households in the lowest income decile in past surveys had average incomes at about the level of the single pension rate, were predominantly single person households, and their principal source of income was largely government pensions and allowances. However, on average, these households also had expenditures above the average of the households in the second income decile, which is not inconsistent with the use of assets to maintain a higher standard of living than implied by their incomes alone.

39 It can therefore be reasonably concluded that many of the households included in the lowest income decile are unlikely to be suffering extremely low levels of economic wellbeing. Income distribution analysis may lead to inappropriate conclusions if such households are used as the basis for assessing low levels of economic wellbeing. For this reason, tables showing statistics classified by income quintile include a supplementary category comprising the second and third income deciles, which can be used as an alternative to the lowest income quintile. (For an explanation of quintiles and deciles, see Appendix 1 of Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 6523.0)).

40 With the 2003-04 HES, analysis of households in the lowest income decile was improved through direct observation of the expenditure and net worth of these households. An examination of these low income households was presented in Appendix 4 of Household Wealth and Wealth Distribution, 2003-04 (cat. no. 6554.0).

Income quintiles

41 In this publication, the income quintiles are calculated with respect to persons, including children. Such measures are sometimes known as person weighted estimates. Nevertheless, as most of the relevant characteristics of persons relate to their household circumstances, most of the tables in this publication primarily describe households.



42 The survey collects information by personal interview from usual residents of private dwellings in urban and rural areas of Australia (excluding very remote areas), covering about 97% of the people living in Australia. Private dwellings are houses, flats, home units, caravans, garages, tents and other structures that were used as places of residence at the time of interview. Long-stay caravan parks are also included. These are distinct from non-private dwellings which include hotels, boarding schools, boarding houses and institutions. Residents of non-private dwellings are excluded.

43 Usual residents excludes:
  • households which contain members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia, and
  • households which contain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments.

Data collection

44 Information for each household was collected using:
  • a household level computer assisted interview questionnaire which collected information on household characteristics
  • an individual level computer assisted interview questionnaire which collected information on income and other personal characteristics from each usual resident aged 15 years and over. It also collected information on child care costs, child care usage and barriers to labour force participation due to child care related reasons.

45 Sample copies of the above documents are included in the Survey of Income and Housing, User Guide, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 6553.0).

Sample design

46 The sample was designed to produce reliable estimates for broad aggregates for households resident in private dwellings aggregated for Australia, for each state and for the capital cities in each state and territory. More detailed estimates should be used with caution, especially for Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (see Appendix 2).

47 For the 2007-08 SIH, dwellings were selected through a stratified, multi-stage cluster design. Selections were distributed across an eleven month enumeration period. The SIH is normally conducted over a 12 month enumeration period so that the survey results would be representative of income patterns across the year. In 2007-08 the estimates were adjusted during weighting so that the shorter enumeration period in the first quarter was compensated in the final estimates. In the final quarter of enumeration, 10% of the selected dwellings were deselected from the sample. This reduced the overall number of dwellings selected to participate in the survey. This outcome may increase the standard error in the final quarter estimates and hence the standard error in the annualised estimates. The relative change in sample size across the enumeration quarters may also introduce some bias to the annualised estimates but this is expected to be much less than the standard error.

Non-responding households

48 Of the selected dwellings there were 11,126 in scope of the survey. Of these, 1,781 did not respond at all to the questionnaire, or did not respond adequately. Such households included:
  • households affected by death or illness of a household member
  • households in which the significant person(s) in the household did not respond because they had language problems or refused to participate
  • households in which the significant person(s) did not respond to key questions.

Partial response and imputation

49 Some other households did not supply all the required information but supplied sufficient information to be retained in the sample. Such partial response occurs when:
  • income or other data in a questionnaire are missing from one or more non-significant person's records because they are unable or unwilling to provide the data
  • all key questions are answered by the significant person(s) but other data are missing.

50 In these cases, the data provided are retained and the missing data are imputed by replacing each missing value with a value reported by another person (referred to as the donor).

51 Donor records are selected by finding fully responding persons with matching information on various characteristics (such as state, sex, age, labour force status and income) as the person with missing information. As far as possible, the imputed information is an appropriate proxy for the information that is missing. Depending on which values are to be imputed, donors are randomly chosen from the pool of individual records with complete information for the block of questions where the missing information occurs.

52 In the 2007-08 SIH, responses were imputed when not every person aged 15 or over residing in the household responded, but the significant persons provided answers to all key questions.

Final sample

53 The final sample on which estimates were based is composed of persons for which all necessary information is available. The information may have been wholly provided at the interview (fully-responding) or may have been completed through imputation for partially responding households. Of the selected dwellings, there were 11,126 in the scope of the survey, of which 9,345 (84.0%) were included as part of the final estimates. The final sample consists of those 9,345 households, comprising 18,326 persons aged 15 years old and over. The final sample includes 2,026 households which had at least one imputed value in income or child care expenses. For 52.4% of these households only a single value was missing, and most of these were for income from interest and investments or information relating to household loans.

SIH final sample: Number of households, 2007-08

Capital city
Balance of State

1 193
2 423
1 433
1 958
3 856
1 309
2 633
1 791
3 569
1 559
1 588
1 577
3 147
1 063
2 016
1 355
2 560
1 896
1 234
2 409
1 250
6 258
12 472
3 087
5 854
9 345
18 326

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Number of persons aged 15 years and over.


54 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total in scope population whether that be persons or households. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each sample unit e.g. a person or a household. The weight is a value which indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit. The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a household being selected in the survey was 1 in 600, then the household would have an initial weight of 600 (that is, it represents 600 households).

55 An adjustment is then made to the initial weights to account for changes in the sample across the four quarters of survey enumeration; the sum of the weights after this initial adjustment of households in each quarter is equal.

56 The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks'. Weights calibrated against population benchmarks ensure that the survey estimates conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population rather than to the distribution within the sample itself.

57 In the 2007-08 SIH, all persons in each household were assigned a weight. This differs from the 2005-06 SIH where children aged 0-14 years were not given separate weights, but household counts of the number of children were benchmarked to population totals.

58 The SIH survey was benchmarked to the in scope estimated resident population (ERP) and the estimated number of households in the population. The 2007-08 cycle has used population and household benchmarks based on the 2006 Census instead of the 2001 Population Census estimates used for the 2003-04 and 2005-06 SIH. The differences in the estimated population that occur due to this change are outlined in the following table.

2001 Census
2006 Census

Population benchmark
Australian Population Benchmark(a)
21 074 415
21 178 235
Persons in Non Private Dwellings Excluded
392 257
371 636
Persons in Very Remote Excluded
173 102
163 470
Total Population Exclusions
565 359
535 106
Final Population Benchmark
20 509 056
20 643 129
Household benchmark
Australian Household Benchmark(a)
8 247 769
8 136 593
Households in Very Remote Excluded
61 690
61 348
Final Household Benchmark
8 186 079
8 075 244

(a) at 31 December 2007

59 The benchmarks used in the calibration of the final weights for the 2007-08 SIH were:
  • number of persons -
      • by state or territory by age by sex
      • five year age groups up to 80+ years for the states
      • five year age groups up to 75+ years for the ACT
      • five year age groups up to 60+ years for the NT
      • by state or the ACT by labour force status ('Employed', 'Unemployed' and 'Not in the labour force')
      • by state by capital city/balance of state.
  • numbers of households -
      • by household composition (number of adults (1, 2 or 3+) and whether or not the household contains children).

60 More detailed age groupings have been used where possible in 2007-08 SIH. Previously in the 2003-04 SIH, ten year age groups up to 65 years and over were used . In SIH 2005-06 five year age groups were used up to 75 years and over, except for NT where the age groups were 15-24, 25-44, 45 and over. The 2007-08 age groups have been refined further where possible, five year age groups up to 80 years or older in all states. The two territories have used five year age groups age up to 75 or older for the ACT and 60 or older for the NT. The expanded detail for age groups in SIH 2007-08 aims to improve estimates across those ages. The impact of this change on all other estimates not involving age is expected to be minimal.

61 The person and household benchmarks were based on preliminary estimates of numbers of persons and households in Australia in 2007-08 based on the 2006 Population Census. The benchmarks used include households and persons residing in occupied private dwellings only and therefore do not, and are not intended to, match estimates of the total Australian resident population published by the ABS.

62 Numbers of households are calibrated to benchmarks for total Australia with respect to household composition (based on the number of adults (1, 2 or 3) and whether or not the household contains children).


63 Estimates produced from the survey are usually in the form of averages (e.g. average weekly income of couple households with dependent children), or counts (e.g. total number of households that own their dwelling or total number of persons living in households that own their own dwelling). For counts of households, the estimate was obtained by summing the weights for the responding households in the required group (e.g. those owning their own dwelling). For counts of persons, the household weights were multiplied by the number of persons in the household before summing. The SIH collects data on the number of people, including children, in each household but separate records with income and other detailed data were only collected for people 15 years and older. Therefore, counts of persons cannot be obtained by summing the weights of all persons.

64 Average income values are obtained in two different ways, depending on whether mean gross household income or mean equivalised disposable household income is being derived. Estimates of mean gross household income are calculated on a household weighted basis. They are obtained by multiplying the gross income of each household by the weight of the household, summing across all households and then dividing by the estimated number of households. For example, the mean gross household income of couple households with dependent children is the weighted sum of the gross income of each such household divided by the estimated number of those households.

65 Estimates of mean equivalised disposable household income are calculated on a person weighted basis. They are obtained by multiplying the equivalised disposable income of each household by the number of people in the household (including children) and by the weight of the household, summing across all households and then dividing by the estimated number of people in the population group. Appendix 2 in Survey of Income and Housing, Australia: User Guide, 2007-08 (cat. no. 6553.0) illustrates the differences between mean gross household income calculated on a household weighted basis and mean equivalised disposable household income calculated on a person weighted basis.


66 The estimates provided in this publication are subject to two types of error, non-sampling and sampling error.

Non-sampling error

67 Non-sampling error can occur in any collection, whether the estimates are derived from a sample or from a complete collection such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording of answers by interviewers and errors in coding and processing the data.

68 Non-sampling errors are difficult to quantify in any collection. However, every effort is made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, training of interviewers and data entry staff and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.

69 One of the main sources of non-sampling error is non-response by persons selected in the survey. Non-response occurs when people cannot or will not cooperate or cannot be contacted. Non-response can affect the reliability of results and can introduce a bias. The magnitude of any bias depends upon the level of non-response and the extent of the difference between the characteristics of those people who responded to the survey and those who did not.

70 The following methods were adopted to reduce the level and impact of non-response:
  • face-to-face interviews with respondents
  • the use of interviewers who could speak languages other than English, where necessary
  • follow-up of respondents if there was initially no response
  • imputation of missing values
  • ensuring that the weighted data is representative of the population (in terms of demographic characteristics) by aligning the estimates with population benchmarks.

Sampling error

71 The estimates are based on a sample of possible observations and are subject to sampling variability. The estimates may therefore differ from the figures that would have been produced if information had been collected for all households. A measure of the sampling error for a given estimate is provided by the standard error, which may be expressed as a percentage of the estimate (relative standard error). Further information on sampling error is given in Appendix 2.


72 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


73 The ABS offers specialist consultancy services to assist clients with more complex statistical information needs. Clients may wish to have the unit record data analysed according to their own needs, or require tailored tables incorporating data items and populations as requested by them. Tables and other analytical outputs can be made available electronically or in printed form. However, as the level of detail or disaggregation increases with detailed requests, the number of contributors to data cells decreases. This may result in some requested information not being able to be released due to confidentiality or sampling variability constraints. All specialist consultancy services attract a service charge, and clients will be provided with a quote before information is supplied. For further information, contact ABS information consultants on 1300 135 070 from 9:00am to 4:30pm AEST Monday to Friday (International callers +61 2 9268 4909).


74 A basic confidentialised unit record file (CURF) from the 2007-08 SIH is available on CD-ROM. A more detailed SIH CURF is also available through the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory. All clients wishing to access the 2007-08 SIH basic and expanded CURF should refer to the ABS Website <http://www.abs.gov.au> (see Services, CURF Microdata) and read the CURF Microdata Entry Page, and other linked information, before downloading the appropriate Guide, Application and Undertaking forms and applying for access.

Australian universities

75 University clients should refer to the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au> (see Services, Services for Universities). The SIH 2007-08 basic and expanded CURF can be accessed by universities participating in the ABS/Universities Australia CURF Agreement for research and teaching purposes.

Other clients

76 Other prospective clients should contact the Microdata Access Strategies Section of the ABS at <microdata.access@abs.gov.au> or on (02) 6252 7714.


77 Users may wish to refer to the following ABS products which are produced from the SIH.
78 Other ABS products which relate to housing statistics include the following: