Australian Bureau of Statistics
2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 2006 (Reissue)
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/07/2007 Reissue
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Social Marital Status
On this page:
Applicable to: Persons aged 15 years and over usually resident and present in household on Census Night
1. Married in a registered marriage
2. Married in a de facto marriage
3. Not married
4. Not applicable
5. Overseas visitor
Total number of categories: 5
More Detailed Description
Quality Statement - Social Marital Status (MDCP)
There are many aspects which can affect the quality of Census data; the following information should be considered when viewing data on Social Marital Status (MDCP)
In the Census, data on the relationships people have with others in the same dwelling, including de facto partnerships or social marriages, is mainly derived from Question 5 on the Census household form, which asks for each person’s relationship to Person 1 on the form. This data is captured automatically as check box responses in 92% of cases, with the remainder obtained from written responses to the question.
Reporting relationships in respect of Person 1 only, can make it difficult to establish all the relationships (including partnerships) which exist in a household. In addition, across the community, a wide variety of living arrangements exists and family structures can be complex and dynamic in nature, and so the identification of all de facto partnership in the Census is partly dependent on people’s ability to describe these relationships within the constraints of the generalised questionnaire format required by a Census. Where relationships information is insufficient to code Social Marital Status (MDCP) then MSTP (Registered Marital Status) may be used to help establish couple relationships. Additional information such as name and usual residence may also be used during data processing to help determine these relationships. Unless a social marriage is identified for a person, they are regarded as "not married".
During the processing of Census data, families and households are identified and created based around a ‘family reference person’, and MDCP is derived for each person in the dwelling. In over 95% of cases Person 1 is the family or household reference person. For the remaining cases, a different person is selected to better allow relationships to be identified or because more than one partnership or family was identified in the household.
In cases where some members of a household are away from home on Census Night, members of the family nucleus (partners, parents and children) and unrelated persons who were temporarily absent on Census Night (and identified as such in Question 53 on the Census Household form) are taken into account when deriving MDCP. This allows for the further identification of some partnerships. However, the ABS has undertaken some preliminary evaluation of the quality of Census data which suggests that around 35% of family members and over 40% of unrelated people who are temporarily absent from their usual address on Census Night are not included in the relevant section of the Census form (Q53). This is only partly explained by the reporting limitation of three persons per household.
The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into Census form design, collection procedures, and processing procedures.
There are four principal sources of error in Census data: respondent error, processing error, partial response and undercount. Quality management of the Census program aims to reduce error as much as possible, and to provide a measure of the remaining error to data users, to allow them to use the data in an informed way.
When completing their Census form, some people do not answer all the questions which apply to them. In these instances, a 'not stated' code is allocated during processing, with the exception of non-response to age, sex, marital status and place of usual residence. These variables are needed for population estimates, so they are imputed using other information on the Census form, as well as information from the previous Census.
The processing of information from Census forms is now mostly automated, using scanning, Intelligent Character Recognition and other automatic processes. Quality assurance procedures are used during Census processing to ensure processing errors are kept at an acceptable level. Sample checking is undertaken during coding operations, and corrections are made where necessary.
The Census form may be completed by one household member on behalf of others. Incorrect answers can be introduced to the Census form if the respondent does not understand the question or does not know the correct information about other household members. Many of these errors remain in the final data.
More detailed information on data quality is available in the 2006 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0), in the section titled Managing Census Quality.
This page last updated 20 May 2011
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