RADL performs the Italian Job
Confidential Unit Record Files, or CURFs, represent the most detailed statistical information available from the ABS. Researchers and analysts are increasingly turning to CURFs for its ability to unlock advanced statistical solutions.
CURFs contain data from ABS collections in the form of unit records which have been confidentialised by removing name and address information and restricting the level of detail available. Researchers perform their own analysis and modelling on the CURF data to produce their own output based on their individual research needs. CURFs are provided to researchers on CD-ROM and/or via the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL).
The RADL is a secure on-line data query service accessed via the ABS web site. Authorised users submit queries in SAS and SPSS via the RADL web interface against CURFs that are kept within the ABS environment. The results of the queries are checked for confidentiality then made available to the users via their desktops. As the CURFs are kept within the ABS environment, the ABS can release a finer level of detail via the RADL than can be made available on CD-ROM.
Among the most popular CURFs is the Census Household Sample File (HSF), a one per cent sample of records from the Census of Population and Housing. HSFs from every Census since 1981 are available, and the 2001 Census HSF is available at two levels of detail - basic and expanded. The Expanded HSF is only available via the RADL and the Basic HSF is available on CD-ROM and/or via the RADL .
Earlier this year two CURF clients from The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) conducted research initiated by Professor Franco Papandrea at the University of Canberra into the experience of Italians in Australia. Using data from the 2001 Census HSF, the researchers compared a range of characteristics, including income, occupation, proficiency in English and educational attainment, of those born in Italy with those born in Australia with Italian ancestry.
Accessing the Expanded Census HSF via the RADL allowed the researchers to look at the person’s year of arrival in Australia in greater detail than the variables available on the Basic Census HSF. While the Basic HSF indicated whether the individual arrived in 2000-01,1996-99 or before 1996, the Expanded HSF via the RADL gave five categories back to ‘before 1986’. This was beneficial as the researchers were interested in comparing characteristics by year of arrival.
The analysis revealed the experience of Italians did not appear to be sensitive to year of arrival for the period of interest to the research. However using the RADL to access this finer level of detail was extremely useful in this analysis.
The Census HSF and all other CURFs are released under strict conditions and clients are required to sign an undertaking stating that the information will be used for statistical purposes only. The undertaking and explanatory information about access to CURFs is available from the ABS web site Access to ABS CURFs page.