2059.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Australia's Youth, 2001  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/02/2004   
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1. This publication presents detailed information on young people (aged 15–24 years) in Australia, using data from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Some information from the 1996 and 1991 Censuses is included for comparative purposes.


2. The 2001 Census of Population and Housing was held on 7 August 2001. Australia's first national census was held in 1911 and since 1961 a census has been taken every five years, a frequency which is specified in the Census and Statistics Act 1905. The objective of the census is to count the number of people in Australia on Census Night, identifying their key characteristics and those of the dwellings in which they live.

3. The Census aims to count every person who spent Census Night in Australia. This includes Australian residents in Antarctica and people in the territories of Jervis Bay, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island. The other Australian External Territories, Norfolk Island and minor islands such as Heard and McDonald Islands, are outside the scope of the Australian Census. The only people in Australia on Census Night who are excluded from the Census are foreign diplomats and their families.

4. The Census includes people on vessels in or between Australian ports, on board long distance trains, buses or aircraft and on oil or gas rigs off the Australian coast. People entering Australia before midnight on Census Night are counted while people leaving an Australian port for an overseas destination before midnight on Census Night are not. Visitors to Australia are included regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. However, for people who intend to be in Australia less than one year, only basic demographic data are available. The Census includes homeless people and people camping out.

5. All occupied dwellings are counted in the Census with the exception of diplomatic dwellings. Unoccupied private dwellings are also counted with the exception of unoccupied dwellings in caravan parks, marinas and manufactured home estates, and units in accommodation for the retired or aged (self-care). Unoccupied residences of owners, managers or caretakers of such establishments are counted.

6. Details about the 2001 Census content, collection operations, confidentiality and privacy protection, processing and evaluation activities are contained in 2001 Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content (cat. no. 2008.0).


7. This publication contains population counts based on a 'place of enumeration' basis. 'Place of enumeration' means where the person was counted on Census Night, which may not have been where they usually lived. The Census can provide person counts based on 'place of usual residence' for Collection Districts (CDs) and aggregations of CDs.

8. The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) is the official ABS estimate of the Australian population. The ERP is based on results of the Census of Population and Housing. It is compiled as at 30 June of each census year updated quarterly between censuses. The intercensal estimates of the resident population are revised following the next census.

9. The ERP is derived from census usual residence counts, by making the following three important adjustments:

  • An adjustment for census net underenumeration (or undercount). The level of underenumeration is derived from the Post Enumeration Survey which is conducted soon after the Census, and from estimates based on demographic analysis;
  • The inclusion of an estimated number of Australian residents who are temporarily overseas on Census Night and are therefore not covered by the Australian Census. The number of such people is estimated from statistics on overseas arrivals and departures; and
  • The third adjustment occurs because the Census does not fall on 30 June. For example, the 2001 Census was held on 7 August. Back dating of population estimates from 7 August to 30 June is accomplished using data from birth and death registrations, overseas arrivals and departures, and estimates of interstate migration, for the period 1 July to 7 August.

10. ABS population estimates are published in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0), produced quarterly, and in Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories (cat. no. 3201.0) produced annually. ERPs for SLAs are published in Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand (cat. no. 3218.0).

11. The ABS also provides projections (based on different assumptions as to future fertility, mortality and migration) of the resident population of Australia, states and territories. These projections are published every two years in Population Projections, Australia (cat. no. 3222.0).


12. Census data are subject to a number of inaccuracies resulting from errors by respondents or mistakes in collection or processing. Whilst many of these are corrected by careful processing procedures, some still remain. The effect of the remaining errors is generally slight, although it may be more important for small groups in the population. The main kinds of error to keep in mind are:
  • Partial non-response: In some cases where an answer is not provided to a question an answer is imputed (often from other information on the form). In other cases a 'Not stated' code is allocated;
  • Processing error: While such errors can occur in any processing system, quality management is used continuously to improve the quality of processed data, and to identify and correct data of unacceptable quality;
  • Random adjustment: Table cells containing small values are randomly adjusted or suppressed to avoid releasing information about particular individuals, families, or households. The effects of these adjustments are statistically insignificant;
  • Respondent error: Because processing procedures cannot detect or repair all errors made by people in completing the forms, some remain in final data; and
  • Undercount: Although the census aims to count each person, there are some people who are missed and others who are counted more than once. The data in this publication are not adjusted for the net undercount.

13. Further information on data quality is provided progressively in Census Update and in 2001 Census Papers.


14. For further information on the quality of Indigenous census data see the following publications: Population Characteristics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 4713.0); and the forthcoming Occasional Paper: Population Measurement Issues, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 (cat. no. 4708.0).


15. For the 2001 Census overseas visitors are defined as any person who stated they would be in Australia for less than 12 months. In this publication, overseas visitors do not contribute to any tables, except for table 1.1 in the Population Characteristics chapter.


16. The labour force statistics collected from the Census are valuable in providing data for small groups of the population. They are not to be confused with the statistics from the monthly Labour Force Survey, which are only available at state, territory, capital city and regional level.

17. Census figures differ from the survey figures because of differences in scope, questionnaire design and collection procedures. For more information refer to Census Working Paper 99/2—1996 Census: Labour Force Statistics and the 2001 Census Fact Sheet—Labour Force Status.

18. Official monthly labour force statistics are published in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), produced monthly.


19. Unless otherwise stated, when calculating the proportion of the population with a particular characteristic, 'Not stated' responses are included in the denominator.


20. A median is the middle value in a series of numbers. For example, in a series of seven numbers, the median value would be the fourth number in the series. In a series of eight numbers, the median value would be the average of the fourth and fifth number in the series. Unlike averages (means), which are calculated by summing all the values in a series and then dividing that aggregate by the number of observations in the series, medians are not usually skewed by extreme observations.

21. The categories 'Not stated' and 'Not applicable' are not included in the calculation of medians.

22. If a median falls into a category that has a text only label, then a value of 0 is used for that category. For this publication this is only relevant to the calculation of median personal income, as the income classification includes categories 'Nil income' and 'Negative income'.

23. When calculating a median on a classification containing ranges, the median may fall into a range which is open-ended. In this case, the median would be set to the number in the label. For example, in the calculation of median weekly individual income, if the median was to fall in the last range $1,500 or more, then $1,500 would be allocated as the median.

24. Individual income is collected in ranges. Because it is not possible to sum income ranges, estimated dollar values are calculated from the Survey of Income and Housing Costs. These values are then used to derive individual income; used to calculate median incomes; and summed to create household incomes.


25. The calculation of household and personal income measures relies on information from the Survey of Income and Housing Costs (SIHC). SIHC data in relation to the total population are used to estimate the median value for each of the income ranges against which individual income is reported in the Census. It is not known how appropriate these SIHC total population medians are to those reported by the Indigenous population against these income ranges.


26. Equivalence scales are used to adjust the actual incomes of households in a way that enables the analysis of the relative wellbeing of people living in households of different size and composition. For example, it would be expected that a household comprising two people would normally need more income than a lone person household if all the people in the two households are to enjoy the same material standard of living. Adopting a per capita analysis would address one aspect of household size difference, but would address neither compositional difference (i.e. the number of adults compared with the number of children) nor the economies derived from living together.

27. 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.

28. The equivalence scale used in this publication was developed for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and is referred to as the 'modified OECD' equivalence scale. It is widely accepted among Australian analysts of income distribution.
This scale allocates 1.0 point for the first adult (aged 15 years or older) in a household; 0.5 for each additional adult; and 0.3 for each child. Equivalised household income is derived by dividing total household income by the sum of the equivalence points allocated to household members. For example, if a household received combined gross income of $2,100 per week and comprised two adults and two children (combined household equivalence points of 2.1), the equivalised gross household income for each household member would be calculated as $1,000 per week.

29. For more information on the use of equivalence scales, see Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia, 2000–01 (cat. no. 6523.0).


30. There is a wide range of products and services developed from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. For more detailed information on the 2001 Census range of products and services, please refer to the Directory of Census Statistics (cat. no. 2910.0), or call our Client Services Officers in your State or Territory (refer to the telephone numbers listed on the back page of this publication). Information is also available on the Internet, at http://www.abs.gov.au