Australian Bureau of Statistics
6224.0.55.002 - Improvements to Family Estimates from the Labour Force Survey, 2008
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/09/2008 First Issue
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SCOPE OF THE FAMILY ESTIMATES
Australian defence force personnel to be included
The current method of producing family estimates begins with those records used in person-level processing. The aim of person-level processing is to produce employment estimates of the civilian population of Australia. Permanent members of the Australian defence forces are explicitly excluded from the scope of LFS person-level estimates. Because LFS family estimates were derived from the person-level estimates, the families of Australian defence force personnel have until now been excluded from the scope of LFS family estimates.
Under the improved method, the scope of the improved family estimates is independent of person-level processing. The improved method will provide estimates of all Australian families who usually live in private dwellings, including the families of Australian defence force personnel.
Non-private dwellings and other continuing exclusions
Persons in non-private dwellings (for example hotels, hospitals and camping grounds) are in scope of LFS person-level estimates, but will continue to be excluded from the scope of LFS family estimates. The LFS does not collect relationship information in non-private dwellings. Most people selected in non-private dwellings in the LFS are staying there temporarily, and usually reside in a private dwelling.
A number of other groups excluded from ERP will continue to be excluded from the scope of LFS family estimates. A household will be excluded from family estimates if any of the usual residents aged 15 years and over are:
WIDER RANGE OF FAMILIES INCLUDED
Under the improved method, data from all private dwellings will contribute to family estimates, as long as all demographic and family type variables are available. This will provide a more complete picture of family characteristics from the LFS than has been available in the past.
Since the introduction of Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) in the LFS in August 2004, basic demographic information has been captured for all persons in selected dwellings including those out on scope of the LFS. Since July 2006, additional information has been collected (for example, whether persons aged 15-24 were in full-time education) for all usual residents of private dwellings, including those out on scope. These changes allow all households in private dwellings to be coded to family type, and used in the production of family estimates.
With the introduction of the improved method in October 2008, information from the following groups will contribute for the first time to LFS family estimates:
Discrete Indigenous communities
Data on relationships within households in discrete Indigenous communities are not available from the LFS, due to the complexity and cost of collecting this information. Therefore, relationship data from discrete Indigenous communities is not available for use in the production of LFS family estimates.
However, the scope of LFS family estimates is all private dwellings, including private dwellings in discrete Indigenous communities. The use of independent population benchmarks in weighting (explained below) compensates somewhat for the lack of household relationship information in discrete Indigenous communities, by ensuring that the family estimates are consistent with benchmark counts of persons and households for a given area (e.g. Northern Territory).
Any benchmarking process assumes that the unobserved data are represented by the observed data. The improved LFS family methodology assumes that families in discrete Indigenous communities have similar characteristics to all other families in the same geographic area (see Improved Weighting Method below for the geographic areas used in benchmarking). This assumption should be kept in mind, particularly when interpreting data for the Northern Territory, where approximately 20% of the population lives in discrete Indigenous communities. If families in discrete Indigenous communities have different characteristics to families in the rest of the Northern Territory, for example if families are larger, then the number of families in the Northern Territory will be overstated. The improved LFS estimate of families in the Northern Territory are likely to be much closer to the true number of families than the current LFS estimate (see the comparison with other ABS sources of families data in the next section of this publication), but some characteristics of those families may be less reliable.
IMPROVED WEIGHTING METHOD
The improved weighting method to be introduced from October 2008 makes use of independent population estimates, known as benchmarks. The method makes use of benchmarks of both persons and households. The use of benchmarks has three benefits:
The estimates of people used in the family estimates will be weighted to match to independent counts of persons for each cross-classification of the following class variables:
The combination of these three variables gives 448 benchmark classes (14 x 2 x 16 = 448). The weighted total of persons within each benchmark class is constrained to match the population count in that class. For example, the weights of 15-19 year old males who live in Sydney will be adjusted so that they total the estimated resident population of 15-19 year old males in Sydney.
The number of households determined from the processing of family estimates will be weighted to match the independent counts of households in Australia for each cross-classification of the following class variables:
The combination of these two variables gives 126 benchmark classes (14 x 9 = 126). The weighted total of households within a benchmark class is constrained to match the total number of households in that class.
For example, the weights of households in Sydney with one usual resident aged 15 years or over and one usual resident aged under 15 years will be adjusted so that they total the estimated number of households in Sydney with the same household composition.
The current household benchmarks used in the derivation of family estimates are based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. The incorporation of information from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and a review of the methodology for producing household benchmarks is likely to result in revisions to the household benchmarks and in turn the family estimates.
Computing the family weight
Each family within the scope of family estimates will be assigned an expansion factor or weight, using a form of 'Generalised Regression' (GREG). The outputs of this process are household weights, which are set to the family weights and person weights for the families and individuals in the household. The sum of the final weights within each benchmark class are constrained to equal the benchmark count at both the person level and household level.
Estimates for each characteristic of interest are then obtained by summing the weights of families in the sample with that characteristic.
To reiterate, the improved estimation method will, through the inclusion of a wider range of families and the use of independent population benchmarks, result in family estimates that more closely reflect the Australian population.
The main limitation of the improved estimation method is the necessary assumption that families in discrete Indigenous communities have family characteristics similar to other families in the same area. This may result in some overstatement of families in the estimates.
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This page last updated 16 September 2008