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4182.0 - Australian Housing Survey -- Housing Characteristics, Costs and Conditions, 1999  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/10/2000   
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NOTES


ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication presents summary results from the 1999 Australian Housing Survey (AHS). The survey collected information from persons in private dwellings throughout Australia and was conducted between September and December 1999. Topics covered include the characteristics, affordability and adequacy of dwellings, and the demographics, tenure and housing costs of persons and households. The unit of analysis is the household.

The publication also contains details about the survey including its objectives and content, and the concepts, methodology and procedures used in the collection of the data and the derivation of estimates.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The 1999 AHS was developed in consultation with major stakeholders, in particular the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS). FaCS also provided a significant proportion of the funding for the survey. In addition, funding was provided by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources and housing authorities within the following State and Territory Government departments:

  • New South Wales - Department of Housing;
  • Victoria - Department of Human Services (Office of Housing);
  • Queensland - Department of Housing;
  • South Australia - Department of Human Services (South Australian Housing Trust);
  • Western Australia - Ministry of Housing (Homeswest);
  • Tasmania - Department of Health and Human Services (Housing Tasmania); and
  • Australian Capital Territory - ACT Housing.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (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.


LIST OF SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS


ABBREVIATIONS

ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
AHSAustralian Housing Survey
CAIComputer Assisted Interviewing
HESHousehold Expenditure Survey
RSErelative standard error
SEstandard error
SIHCSurvey of Income and Housing Costs


SYMBOLS

n.pnot available for publication but included in totals where applicable
*estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50%
**estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50%
..not applicable
-nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)


EFFECTS OF ROUNDING

Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals. Published percentages are calculated prior to rounding of the figures and therefore some discrepancy may exist between these percentages and those that could be calculated from the rounded figures.


FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information about these and related statistics, contact Di Chambers on (02) 6252 5508, or the National Information Service on 1300 135 070.


SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

HOUSEHOLDS



TENURE PATTERNS OF AUSTRALIAN HOUSEHOLDS

In 1999, the majority of the 7.2 million households in Australia owned their current home, either with or without a mortgage (31% and 39% respectively). A further 27% of households were renting, with 74% of these households renting from a private landlord and 19% renting from a State or Territory housing authority landlord (table 1).

Between 1994 and 1999 there was no change in the overall proportions of owner and renter households, with the proportion of owner households remaining stable at 70% (table 3).

The proportion of households that owned their home varied little (between 68% to 71%) across most of the States and Territories. The exceptions were Victoria, which had the highest proportion of owners (75%) and the Northern Territory which had the lowest proportion (46%) (table 4).

Overall, the likelihood of a household owning their home increased with age. The majority (80%) of households where the reference person was aged between 15-24 years, were renters. In contrast, 80% of households where the reference person was aged 65 years or more, were owners without a mortgage, while a further 4% were owners with a mortgage (table 1).

TENURE BY AGE OF REFERENCE PERSON



The tenure of a household tends to be strongly related to the life-cycle stages through which households progress. Generally, this cycle follows a pattern of renting in early adulthood, moving to home purchase and mortgages as they form relationships and raise a family, and owning the home without any mortgage in older age. For example:
  • in 1999, young single households (persons less than 35 years of age and living on their own) were most likely to be renting (62%);
  • young couple only households (where the reference person was aged less than 35 years) were more likely to own their home than young single households (52% compared to 32%); and
  • the majority of couple households living with non-dependent children, owned their home (92%).
However, one parent households with dependent children were more likely to be renting (58%), than to own their home (40%) (table 2).


DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS AND CONDITIONS

Dwelling structure and size

In 1999 (as in 1994), 79% of homes across Australia were separate dwellings (table 3). This predominance was even more pronounced in rural areas (95%) (table 7). Of the states, Tasmania (88%) and Queensland (84%) had the highest proportions of separate dwellings, whereas New South Wales had the highest proportion of flats (17%) (table 4).

Ninety per cent of owners lived in a separate house compared to 55% of private renters and 46% of renters in State or Territory housing authority homes (table 7).

The majority (57%) of separate houses had three bedrooms while a further 29% had four or more bedrooms. In contrast, 58% of semidetached homes and 86% of flats had only one or two bedrooms (table 7).

The type and size of dwelling varied considerably across different life-cycle groups. For example:
  • households comprising young single persons were most likely to live in semidetached dwellings or flats (53%), and in dwellings with one or two bedrooms (63%);
  • young couple only households were most likely to live in a separate house (68%), and in dwellings with three or more bedrooms (60%);
  • almost all couples with both dependent and non-dependent children, lived in a separate house (97%), and in dwellings with at least three bedrooms (99%);
  • older persons living in a couple only household (where the reference person was aged 65 or over) were more likely to live in separate dwellings than households containing a single person aged 65 or over (87% compared to 65%); and
  • one parent households with dependent children were less likely to live in separate dwellings than couples with dependent children (76% compared to 92%) and were also less likely to live in dwellings with at least three bedrooms (77% compared to 90%) (table 5).

SELECTED LIFE-CYCLE GROUPS BY PRIVATE DWELLING STRUCTURE



Housing utilisation

Using the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (see Explanatory Notes), of the 7.2 million households in Australia, only a small proportion (5%) required one or more additional bedrooms. Almost a quarter of all households (23%) had the exact number of bedrooms required, while 73% had more bedrooms than were needed to accommodate the occupants (table 6).

Households that owned their home without a mortgage were more likely than those with other tenures to have one or more bedrooms spare (85%). Households renting from a State or Territory housing authority were the most likely tenure group to have the exact number of rooms required (46%). Eight per cent of both private renters and State or Territory housing authority renters required one or more additional bedrooms (table 6).

Sixty per cent of couples living with dependent children only, had at least one spare bedroom, compared to 46% of one parent households with dependent children. Of the latter group, 8% required one or more additional bedrooms (table 6).

Age of dwelling

The majority (57%) of Australian homes were reported by their occupants to be 20 or more years old. Tasmania had marginally, the highest proportion of homes built 50 or more years ago (23%), while the Northern Territory had the highest proportion of dwellings less than five years old (13%) (table 4).

Dwelling materials

Double brick or brick veneer homes are becoming increasingly common across Australia. In 1999, 71% of dwellings had walls of either brick or brick veneer, compared to 65% in 1994 (table 11).

In 1999, the majority of homes featured timber frames (64%) and had roofing of either tiles (63%) or metal sheeting (33%). These proportions had changed little from 1994 (table 11).

Housing condition

Most Australian dwellings were reported to be in good condition, with the majority of households (80%) reporting no major structural problems. For those with problems, cracks in walls or floors were the most often reported (by 473,300 or 7% of households). Other problems were sinking or moving foundations (5%), rising damp (4%) and walls or windows being out of plumb (4%) (table 8).

Forty-three per cent of households reported that repairs were required to the inside of their home and a similar proportion (45%) reported that repairs were required to the outside of the dwelling. However, of these, almost two-thirds (63% and 62% respectively) rated the need for repair to be desirable but low (table 8).

The vast majority of households had basic amenities such as working cooking facilities, refrigerators and washing machines. Overall, households were most likely to report that they did not have adequate kitchen cupboard or bench space, with renters in State or Territory housing authority homes being the most likely group to report a deficiency in this area (25%) (table 9).

Alterations and additions

Twenty-three per cent of households reported that alterations and additions had been carried out to their current dwelling within the last two years. The most commonly reported alterations and additions were to kitchens (6%), bathrooms (6%) or to outdoor living areas such as pergolas or decks (6%) (table 10).

Repairs and maintenance

Fifty-five per cent of households reported that repairs or maintenance had been carried out to their current dwelling within the last twelve months. The most commonly reported types of repair or maintenance were painting (31%), plumbing (24%) and electrical work (17%). Ten per cent of renter households in dwellings where repairs or maintenance had been carried out, indicated that they had met at least some of the costs themselves (table 10).


HOUSING COSTS AND AFFORDABILITY

Housing costs comprise different items depending on the tenure of the household (for further details see Appendix 1).

In 1999, the average weekly housing cost for all households was $121. For owners without a mortgage, the average housing cost was $44 per week (5% of their income). Owners with a mortgage had the highest housing costs, spending an average of $206 (16% of their income) per week (table 13).

Renter households spent the highest proportion of their income on housing costs, with private renters spending 19% and renters in State or Territory housing authority homes spending 18%. However, while the two groups were similar in percentage terms, weekly housing costs for these two tenure groups were markedly different ($163 compared to $66 respectively) (table 13).

The proportion of income spent on housing is strongly related to income quintiles as well as tenure. Households in the lowest income quintile spent the highest proportion of their income on housing costs in relation to other households that were in the same tenure groups. For example, of households in the lowest income quintile, owners with a mortgage and private renters each spent 64% of their income on housing costs. In comparison, for households in the highest income quintile, the proportions were much lower (12% and 11% respectively) (table 13).

PROPORTION OF INCOME SPENT ON HOUSING BY TENURE BY INCOME QUINTILE



Of life-cycle groups, young couple only households, followed by couples with children under five years only, had the highest average weekly housing costs ($217 and $198 respectively). Young single households and one parent households with dependent children spent the highest proportion of their income on housing (21% each) (table 14).

Across capital cities, the average weekly housing cost was $135. Housing costs were highest in Sydney, with an average of $164 per week, while Adelaide had the lowest average weekly housing costs at $96 (table 15).

There is no single standard measure of housing affordability, but expressing housing costs as a proportion of income and then relating this proportion to a number of benchmarks can provide indicative information. For example, a benchmark of more than 50% of income spent on housing costs could indicate severe affordability problems, particularly for those on low incomes. The tables in this publication present information using five affordability benchmarks: 25% or less, more than 25%, more than 30%, more than 40%, and more than 50%.

Most Australian households (73%) spent 25% or less of their income on housing (table 1).

In 1999, 39% of private renter households and 26% of owners with a mortgage, spent more than 25% of their income on housing. In comparison, only 6% of owners without a mortgage spent more than 25% of their income on housing. At a higher benchmark, 31% of households renting privately and 18% of owners with a mortgage, spent more than 30% of their income on housing (table 1).

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY(a) BY TENURE



Households in the lowest two income quintiles (each quintile contains 20% of households when ranked on household income) spent a considerably higher proportion of their income on housing. While approximately 20% of all households spent more than 25% of their income on housing, the proportion was 32% for those in the two lowest income quintiles (table 12).

One parent households with dependent children were twice as likely as couples with dependent children only, to spend more than 25% of their income on housing (42% compared to 21%). Thirty-four per cent of one parent households with dependent children and 14% of couples with dependent children only, spent more than 30% of their income on housing (table 12).

Home owners

Slightly more than one-third of home owners (35%) had purchased a new rather than an established home (table 16). Almost two-thirds (64%) of owner households had $100,000 or more equity in their dwelling. The likelihood of a household having this level of equity increased with the age of the reference person, ranging from 30% of households with a reference person under 35 years old, to 77% of households where the reference person was aged 65 or over (table 18).

Recent home buyer households

Approximately 963,400 households had purchased their current home between January 1997 and November 1999. Of these ‘recent’ home buyer households, 32% had purchased their first home (table 19). Fifty-four per cent of recent home buyer households were in the top two income quintiles (table 17).

Recent first home buyer households generally had higher weekly housing costs than changeover buyer households. For example, 63% of first home buyer households had weekly housing costs of $150 or more, compared to 47% of changeover buyer households (table 17).

This is despite the fact that first home buyer households had generally spent less in purchasing their home than changeover buyers. For example, recent first home buyers were twice as likely as changeover buyer households to have purchased their home for less than $125,000 (55% compared to 26%). Only a small proportion of first home buyers (5%) paid $300,000 or more for their first home, compared to 21% of changeover buyer households (table 19).

PURCHASE PRICE OF DWELLING



Eighty-three per cent of recent home buyer households purchased a separate house, and 78% had purchased an established rather than a new home. Savings were reported as a source of deposit for 65% of households and the sale of a former home was a deposit source for 23% of households (table 19).

Renter households

Most households (79%) in State or Territory housing authority homes paid less than $100 per week in housing costs. The majority (75%) reported that they had not paid any bond and only 9% reported that they had paid $200 or more for their bond (table 20). In contrast, almost two-thirds (65%) of households renting from a private landlord paid a bond of $500 or more. For more than half of private renters (54%), weekly housing costs were $150 or more (table 21).

Forty-four per cent of private renters had a fixed term lease of 6 or 12 months, while a further 28% had either a month by month or other fixed term lease arrangement. Households in State or Territory housing authority homes were most likely to have an indefinite tenure arrangement (83%) (tables 20 and 21).

Given that State or Territory housing authority tenants are more likely to undergo regular rent reviews, 54% of State or Territory housing authority renters, compared to 10% of private renters, reported that the amount of rent they paid had changed in the previous 12 months. Most State or Territory housing authority renters for whom rent had changed in the last 12 months (71%), reported that their change in rent was due to a change in their income (tables 20 and 21).


HOUSING HISTORY

Of the 4.4 million households where the reference person had lived in the current dwelling for less than nine years, 55% of owners without a mortgage were in the same tenure as in their previous dwelling. Twenty-four per cent of owners without a mortgage in 1999, and 57% of those who were owners with a mortgage, had been renting previously.

A small proportion of households who were currently renting, owned their previous home-approximately 4% of households renting from a State or Territory housing authority, and 11% of households renting privately (table 23).

Most households (92%) had moved within the same State or Territory, with 42% of these households moving within the same suburb, town or locality. Only a small minority of reference persons had moved interstate (5%) (table 23).

Households renting privately were the most likely to move frequently, with almost a half (49%) having moved at least three times in the last five years. These were also the group most likely to have moved recently, with 80% having lived in their current dwelling for two years or less. In contrast, 44% of owners without a mortgage and 33% of owners with a mortgage, had not moved at all in the last five years (table 23).


EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents selected summary results from the 1999 Australian Housing Survey (AHS). The survey collected information from persons in private dwellings throughout Australia and was conducted between September and December 1999. Topics covered include the characteristics, affordability and adequacy of dwellings, and the demographics, tenure and housing costs of persons and households. Appendix 3 outlines the 1999 AHS survey output and dissemination program.

2 The statistics presented in this publication are intended to present an overview of data collected in the 1999 AHS. Emphasis has been given to highlighting how people are housed, their income and housing costs, housing history (movements between dwellings and tenures), life-cycle effects and living arrangements. A list of the main data items collected in the 1999 AHS will be available upon request (see Appendix 3).

3 The 1999 AHS is broadly similar to the 1994 AHS in that it provides information about the dwelling characteristics of Australia’s households, as well as updates on key indicators such as tenure and housing costs. The main differences between the collections are:
  • the 1999 AHS collected extra detail on individual costs, loans, housing history, income and rent assistance;
  • less detail was collected on the physical condition of the dwelling, types of amenities and satisfaction with locational aspects of the dwelling;
  • new questions on temporary residents, household transitions, travel to work and shops, assets and liabilities and rental satisfaction were included;
  • the sample of Indigenous households (excluding those in remote areas) was supplemented to improve the reliability of Indigenous estimates (see Appendix 3 for dissemination details);
  • the option for an increased sample of households in an effort to improve the reliability of disaggregated data at the sub State level was offered to all States and Territories. This offer was accepted by the South Australian Department of Human Services;
  • computer assisted interviewing (CAI) was used to collect data from households and individuals; and
  • the 1999 AHS used an improved system of calibrating survey results to demographic estimates of Australia’s population for persons and households.


CONCEPTUAL ISSUES

4 A number of conceptual issues associated with household, tenure type, cash income and housing utilisation as applied in the 1999 AHS are described in the following section. Refer to the Glossary for the complete definitions of 1999 AHS terms. In addition, Appendix 1 provides a detailed discussion on the concept of housing costs.

Household

5 The household is the basic unit of analysis in this publication. It is defined, in its broadest sense, as a group of people who live and eat together as a single unit within a dwelling. The use of the household as the basic unit of analysis requires that the estimates of variables such as income and housing costs are based on the sum of the income and housing costs of all household members. 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. Including such transfers would result in double counting.

Tenure type

6 Tenure type is the nature of a person or household’s legal right to occupy the dwelling in which they usually reside. It is determined by responses to questions about ownership, payment to purchase, and rental arrangements.

7 Until 1995, tenure type classified owner occupiers of dwellings as either outright owners or purchasers. A purchaser was a household that had a mortgage or secured loan that was used to buy or build the dwelling. Households were considered to own their dwelling outright if there was no loan secured against the dwelling for the purpose of building or purchasing. Outright owners who took out loans (whether secured or not) for alterations or additions to the dwelling were considered to be outright owners rather than purchasers.

8 Owner occupiers are now classified as owners without a mortgage and owners with a mortgage. This change to the classification was made to reflect the increasing use of loans secured against the dwelling in which the household usually resides for purposes unrelated to that dwelling. Such secured loans have implications for the household’s security of tenure. For example, a household with a loan for investment or other purposes which is secured against their usual residence has the same security as a household with a mortgage to purchase the dwelling. The new classification reflects this, by classifying both households as owners with a mortgage.

Cash income

9 Income in the 1999 AHS was collected according to source. Main sources of income include:
  • wage or salary and profit or loss from own unincorporated business;
  • return on assets which includes interest, dividends and rental income; and
  • non-market income which includes government pensions and allowances, workers compensation, superannuation and child support.

10 Estimates of weekly cash income do not refer to a specific week.Income was collected using a number of different reporting periods and was divided by the number of weeks in the period to obtain usual weekly income. The types of reporting periods were:
  • last financial year for own unincorporated business, dividends and interest, and rental income; and
  • yearly, or any weekly or monthly combination for wages or salary and transfer income.

Housing utilisation

11 The concept of housing utilisation in this publication is based upon a comparison of the number of bedrooms in a dwelling with a series of household demographics such as the number of usual residents, their relationship to one another, age and sex. There is no single standard measure for housing utilisation, however the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has used a Canadian model which was considered by the National Housing Strategy and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to conform reasonably to social norms in Australia.

The Canadian National Occupancy Standard

12 The Canadian National Occupancy Standard for housing appropriateness is sensitive to both household size and composition. The measure assesses the bedroom requirements of a household by specifying that:
  • there should be no more than two persons per bedroom;
  • children less than 5 years of age of different sexes may reasonably share a bedroom;
  • children 5 years of age or older of opposite sex should have separate bedrooms;
  • children less than 18 years of age and of the same sex may reasonably share a bedroom; and
  • single household members 18 years or over should have a separate bedroom, as should parents or couples.

13 Households living in dwellings where this standard cannot be met are considered to be overcrowded.


SCOPE

14 The scope of a survey is the set of units or population about which information is required. Only usual residents of private dwellings in non-remote areas of Australia were in scope in the 1999 AHS. 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. These were distinct from special dwellings which included hotels, boarding houses and institutions.

15 Information was collected from all persons aged 15 years and over except:
  • visitors;
  • non-Australian diplomatic personnel or staff;
  • overseas residents in Australia; and
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

16 The 1999 AHS collected information from persons in both urban and rural areas in all States and Territories. Persons living in remote and sparsely settled parts of Australia where there were fewer than 0.06 dwellings per square kilometre were excluded. The exclusion of these persons has only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual States and Territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory where such persons account for over 20% of the population.


DATA COLLECTION

17 Trained ABS interviewers conducted face to face interviews using laptop computers to collect, store and load data. The interviews were conducted during the period 13 September to 10 December 1999.

18 Information about each household was collected from the person who nominated themselves as the head or their spouse/partner. They were asked a series of questions about the basic demographics of all household members, temporary residents, physical aspects of the dwelling, tenure and housing costs.

19 Personal interviews were then conducted with people aged 15 years and over in the household. Information on individual housing costs, housing satisfaction, household transitions, housing history, educational attainment, labour force status, travel, income and assets and liabilities was collected.

20 In households where people aged 15-20 years were living with one or more of their parents but could not be contacted for a face to face interview, the parent or other suitable person was asked to complete the personal interview information on their behalf. There were 1,264 such interviews conducted in 1,022 households.

21 While interviews were not conducted with persons aged less than 15 years, their demographic information was provided by the head or their spouse/partner. This information is used to determine variables such as household composition and life-cycle groups, and is also included in the counts for items such as number of usual residents in the household and housing utilisation.

22 Standard ABS questions, definitions and classifications were used where possible so that information available from the 1999 AHS can be compared with other sources of standard ABS data. Sample copies of the questionnaire are available upon request to assist clients in analysing the 1999 AHS results (see Appendix 3).


DATA LOADING

23 Data from the CAI collection instruments were electronically loaded to a process management system in each State or Territory ABS office. Checks were made to ensure data for all relevant questions were fully accounted for and that all returns for each household and respondent were loaded. Interviewer comments were read and records were allocated a final response status. Data from the State and Territory offices were then merged into a single ‘Australia’ file.


DATA PROCESSING

24 Processing includes a number of steps which are performed in transforming data from questionnaires into estimates. Computer based systems were used to process the data from the 1999 AHS.

Input editing

25 Input editing is a quality control process applied to unit level respondent data. This initially occurs while the data are being collected. A number of range and consistency edits were programmed into the CAI collection instrument to ensure the completeness and consistency of responses to the questionnaire. The interviewer could not proceed from one section of the interview to the next until responses had been appropriately completed. Edit messages appeared on screen automatically if the information entered was either outside the permitted range for a particular question, or contradicted information already recorded. These edit queries were resolved with respondents on the spot resulting in higher quality input processing.

26 After all the records had been merged on to a single file, additional edits, designed to highlight errors that were not detected during data collection, were applied. These range and consistency edits were more extensive than those programmed into the CAI instrument and checked whether values had been correctly coded, logical sequences had been followed, information was consistent, specific values lay within valid ranges and unusually high or low values (termed statistical outliers) were acceptable. Amendments were made to unit level respondent data as required.

Coding

27 All responses in the 1999 AHS were coded by computer based systems. In most cases the CAI instrument displayed each question along with all possible response categories. Once a response was selected coding was complete. More complex computer assisted coding (CAC) was performed for country of birth, occupation and family relationships, due to the range and complexity of possible responses. CAC required the key entry of only the first few letters (a truncation) of one or more of the words given in the response. The computer then searched the file(s) derived from the coding index for entries which matched the truncation. A subset of the entries in the coding index was then displayed on the screen. The best matching entry (or entries) could then be selected with the correct code being assigned by the computer.

Imputation

28 Some persons who provided most of the required AHS information, but were unwilling or unable to provide a response to certain income or assets and liabilities questions, were retained in the sample and their missing values were deduced or imputed.

29 Where possible, missing data were deduced using information the respondent had supplied elsewhere on the questionnaire. Otherwise, the missing information was imputed. Imputation is the process of replacing missing values with substitute values during processing. In the 1999 AHS, missing information was replaced with a value which had been reported by another person with similar characteristics (e.g. age, sex, labour force status, state).

30 The record providing the imputed value is known as the donor record. Choosing donors with similar characteristics to the person with the missing information ensures that the data provided are an appropriate proxy for the value that is missing. Donors were taken from a pool of persons with complete information for the block of questions in which the missing information was located.


SURVEY DESIGN AND ESTIMATION

Sample design

31 The sample was designed to produce reliable household and person estimates at the Australian, State/Territory and Capital City/Balance of State level for people and households that were in the scope of the survey. Of the selected dwellings, there were 15,584 in-scope households, of which 88% responded.

Fully non-responding households

32 In the 1999 AHS, 1,796 in-scope households selected in the sample did not contribute to the calculation of the estimates. Such households included those where either some or all members could not be contacted or refused to participate, had residents with language difficulties, or which were affected by death or illness of a household member.

Final sample

33 The sample on which estimates were based, or the final AHS sample, is composed of households for which all necessary information is available. The information may have been wholly provided during the interview or may have been completed through deduction or imputation. The final 1999 AHS sample includes 13,788 households and 27,688 persons. Of these, approximately 1,350 persons, from 889 households, had at least one imputed value.

34 The following table shows the final number of responding households for each of the States and Territories.

E1 AHS FINAL SAMPLE, NUMBER OF RESPONDING HOUSEHOLDS, 1999



Weighting

35 Expansion factors or weights are values by which information obtained from a sample of households are multiplied to produce estimates for the whole population. Estimates are produced for persons and households and the weight for each member of a household is the same as the weight for the household itself.

36 Initial weights are based on the sample design, and as such they do not account for loss in sample due to non-response. Demographic and geographic information were analysed to determine whether a significant relationship existed between these characteristics and non-response. It was found that the state in which a household is located, as well as the household type, were influential in predicting the non-response pattern. Therefore, a non-response adjustment (or an appropriate increasing of initial weights) was made at the state and household type level.

Benchmarking

37 To adjust for under-enumeration and to align survey estimates with independent population estimates, the weights were further modified to align with person and household benchmarks (known population totals). Using an iterative procedure (known as calibration), the weights were adjusted so that person and household estimates conformed with external person and household benchmarks.

38 The benchmarks were based on provisional estimates of numbers of persons and households in Australia respectively. The benchmarks were adjusted to include households and persons residing in private dwellings only and therefore do not, and are not intended to, match estimates of the total Australian resident population published in other ABS publications.

39 The benchmarks do not include the approximately 175,000 people living in sparsely-settled areas. The exclusion of these people will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory where such people account for over 20% of the population.

Estimation

40 Estimates produced from the survey are usually in the form of counts (e.g. total number of households who own their dwelling without a mortgage or loan secured against it) or averages (e.g. mean weekly housing costs of owners without a mortgage). The estimate for counts is obtained by summing the weights of all households in the required group (e.g. those owning their dwelling without a mortgage secured against it). Averages are obtained by adding the weighted values, and then dividing by the estimated number of households. For example, average weekly housing costs of owners without a mortgage is the weighted sum of the housing costs of each owner without a mortgage household, divided by the estimated number of owner without a mortgage households.


DATA QUALITY

41 The estimates provided in this publication are subject to two types of error which should be kept in mind when interpreting the data.

Non-sampling error

42 Non-sampling error can occur whether the estimates are derived from a sample or from a complete collection. Three major sources of non-sampling error are:
  • the inability to obtain data from all households included in the sample. Although non-response adjustments are made to the sampling weights (see paragraph 36), some bias may remain;
  • errors in reporting on the part of both respondents and interviewers. These reporting errors may arise through inappropriate wording of questions, misunderstanding of what data are required, inability or unwillingness to provide accurate information and mistakes in answers to questions; and
  • errors arising during processing of the survey data. These processing errors may arise through mistakes in coding and data recording.

43 Non-sampling errors are difficult to measure in any collection. However, every effort is made to minimise these errors. In particular, the effect of reporting and processing errors described above is minimised by careful questionnaire design, the intensive training and supervision of interviewers, asking respondents to refer to records whenever possible and by extensive editing and quality control checking at all stages of data collection and processing.

44 The error due to non-response is minimised by:
  • performing a non-response adjustment;
  • re-visiting all initially non-responding households in order to gather data that was not collected in the first instance; and
  • ensuring the weighted file is representative of the population by aligning the estimates with benchmarks.

Sampling error

45 The AHS estimates are based on a sample of possible observations. Hence, they are subject to sampling variability and estimates may 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 expressed as a percentage of the estimate (relative standard error). Further information on sampling error is given in Appendix 2.


GLOSSARY

Alterations and additions

Alterations or additions involve any work which significantly changes the original condition of the dwelling or its surrounding land. Some examples of alterations or additions include changing the position of internal walls in a dwelling, adding additional rooms, renovating a kitchen or bathroom, installing a swimming pool, replacing a wooden fence with a metal one, building a garage, etc.

Body corporate fees

Compulsory payments to the governing body of a block of home units or apartments. The governing body consists of home unit owners or their representatives.

Cash income

Gross current usual cash receipts that are of a regular and recurring nature received by the household or its members at annual or more frequent intervals, from employment, own business, the lending of assets, and transfers from government, private organisations and other households. If income is reported on other than a weekly basis, such as fortnightly, monthly or for the previous financial year, it is pro-rated to a weekly equivalent amount.

Changeover buyerhousehold

A household where all current owners, with or without a mortgage, have previously owned or been purchasing a home.

Child

A person of any age who is a natural, adopted, step, or foster son or daughter of a couple or lone parent, usually resident in the same household. A child is also any individual under 15, usually resident in the household, who forms a parent-child relationship with another member in the household. This includes otherwise related children under 15 and unrelated children under 15. In order to be classified as a child, the person can have no partner or child of his or her own usually resident in the household.

Couple

Two people usually residing in the same household who share a social, economic and emotional bond usually associated with marriage and who consider their relationship to be a marriage or marriage-like union. This relationship is identified by the presence of a registered marriage or de facto marriage.

Dependent child

All people aged under 15 years; and people aged 15 to 24 years who are full-time students, have a parent in the household and do not have a partner or child of their own in the household.

Dividends

Gross cash income received in the previous financial year, from equity investments such as ownership of shares, expressed as a weekly equivalent.

Dwelling

A structure, or a discrete space within a structure, intended for people to live in or where a person or group of people live. Thus a structure that people actually live in is a dwelling regardless of its intended purpose, but a vacant structure is only a dwelling if intended for human residence. A dwelling may include one or more rooms used as an office workshop provided the dwelling is in residential use.

Earner
A person (excluding a dependent child) who is employed. The earnings of a dependent child are included in total household income.

Employed

A person aged 15 years and over who, during the reference week:
  • worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind in a job or business, or on a farm (includes employees, employers and own account workers); or
  • worked one hour or more, without pay, in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers); or
  • were employees who had a job but were not at work and were: on paid leave; on leave without pay for less than four weeks up to the end of the reference week; stood down without pay because of bad weather or plant breakdown at their place of employment for less than four weeks up to the end of the reference week; on strike or locked out; on workers’ compensation and expected to be returning to their job; or receiving wages or salary while undertaking full-time study; or
  • were employers, own account workers or contributing family workers who had a job, business or farm, but were not at work.

Employee

A person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages or salary, or is paid a retainer fee by his/her employer and works on a commission basis, or works for an employer for tips, piece-rates or payment in kind; or, is a person who operates his or her own incorporated enterprise with or without hiring employees.

Employer

A person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires one or more employees.

Family

Two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering; and who are usually resident in the same household. The basis of a family is formed by identifying the presence of a couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship. Some households will, therefore, contain more than one family.

First home buyer household

A household where none of the current owners, with or without a mortgage, have previously owned or been purchasing a home.

Flat

A self-contained dwelling without its own private grounds and usually in a block of flats, units or apartments sharing one or more common entrance foyers or stairwells. This category also includes flats attached to houses (e.g. granny flats) and freestanding garages, etc. converted to flats.

Government cash pensions, benefits and allowances

Gross current usual (weekly equivalent) cash receipts from government pensions, benefits and allowances paid to persons, families or households.

Gross income

Regular cash receipts before tax or other deductions are made.

Gross weekly income quintiles

Quintiles are formed by ranking the population by ascending gross weekly income and then dividing the ranked population into five equal groups. The values which correspond to gross weekly income quintiles used in this publication are as follows:

  • Lowest
Less than or equal to $307
  • Second
$308-$596
  • Third
$597-$965
  • Fourth
$966-$1,477
  • Highest
More than $1,477

Group household

A household consisting of two or more unrelated people where all persons are aged 15 years or over. There are no reported couple relationships, parent-child relationships or other blood relationships in these households.

Household

A group of people who live and eat together as a single unit within a dwelling. This may be:
  • a group of two or more related or unrelated people who usually reside in the same dwelling, who regard themselves as a household and who make common provision for food or other essentials for living; or
  • a person living in a dwelling who makes provision for his or her own food and other essentials for living, without combining with any other person.

Housing costs

Housing costs are the ongoing outlays incurred by a dwelling’s occupants in providing for their shelter. The housing related outlays that contribute to housing costs in the 1999 AHS are:
  • mortgage or loan repayments (secured or unsecured) where the purpose of the loan is to buy or build, add to or alter the dwelling;
  • rental payments;
  • water and general council rates;
  • land tax payments;
  • body corporate or strata title payments; and
  • expenditure on repairs and maintenance for the dwelling.

Only payments which relate to the dwelling occupied at time of interview i.e. the respondent’s usual place of residence are included. Payments for other dwellings are not regarded as housing costs, even if the usual dwelling has been offered as security.

Housing utilisation

Provides a measure of the bedroom requirements of a household according to household size and composition.

Indigenous household

A household which contains at least one person who is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin and who is aged 15 years or over.

Interest

Gross receipts accrued in the previous financial year from deposits (including term deposits) with banks, building societies, credit unions and other financial institutions, expressed as a weekly equivalent.

Labour force status

A person’s standing in relation to the currently economically active segment of the population. A person may be classified as employed, unemployed or not in the labour force.

Landlord

The entity with which the person or household obtains the contractual right to occupy the dwelling. It is the legal entity to whom rent is paid or with whom the tenure contract or arrangement is made.

Lone parent

A person who has no spouse or partner present in the household but who forms a parent-child relationship with at least one dependent or non-dependent child usually resident in the household.

Lone person household

A household comprised of an individual who makes provision for his or her own food and other essentials for living, without combining with any other person to form part of a multi-person household.

Mean

The sum of values divided by the number of values.

Median

The middle value of a set of values when the values are sorted in order.

Multi-family household

A household where more than one family has been identified, based on the presence of a combination of, or more than one of, the following relationships: couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship, or other blood relationship.

Negative income

The loss incurred by an unincorporated enterprise or from rental property when the operating expenses and depreciation exceed the gross receipts.

Non-dependent child

A natural, step, adopted or foster child of a couple or lone parent usually resident in the household, aged over 15 years and who is not a full-time student aged 15-24 years, and who has no partner or child of his or her own usually resident in the household.

Not in the labour force

A person who, during the reference week, was not in the categories employed or unemployed, as defined.

One parent with dependent children

A household consisting of a lone parent with dependent children only or a lone parent with dependent and non-dependent children.

Other cash income

Includes:
  • life assurance annuity benefits such as superannuation;
  • regular cash receipts from private organisations such as insurance payments (including workers’ compensation), and private scholarships or study allowances;
  • regular receipts from other households in the form of child support/maintenance, inheritances and trust funds; and
  • net receipts accruing in the current reference period as a result of ownership of assets. This comprises returns from financial assets (interest, dividends), from physical assets (rents) and from intellectual assets (royalties).

Other couple household

A household containing a couple with non-dependent children only or a couple with dependent and non-dependent children. These households may also contain other relatives.

Other household

A household consisting of a lone parent with non-dependent children only, with or without other relatives. It also includes households with multiple families.

Other private dwelling

Includes:
  • movable dwellings (e.g. caravans, campervans, mobile homes, houseboats, other boats equipped with berths, site sheds, demountables, etc.); and
  • improvised or makeshift dwellings (e.g. tents, rough shacks, tarps, lean-tos, offices or vehicles not converted for dwelling purposes, etc.).

Other renter

A household paying rent to:
  • a parent or other relative in the same dwelling;
  • the owner/manager of a caravan park;
  • an employer (including a government authority);
  • a housing cooperative, community or church group; or
  • any other landlord not included elsewhere.

Other tenure

A household which is a participant of:
  • a life tenure scheme;
  • a rent/buy (or shared equity) scheme; or
  • a tenure arrangement not included elsewhere (e.g. house-sitting, payment in kind for a specific service).

Own account worker

A person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade and hires no employees.

Own unincorporated business cash income

The profit or loss from own unincorporated enterprise in the previous financial year, expressed as a weekly equivalent. Profit or loss consists of the value of the gross output of the enterprise after the deduction of operating expenses (including depreciation). Losses occur when operating expenses are greater than gross receipts and are treated as negative income.

Owner with a mortgage

A household’s tenure type is owner with a mortgage if anyone in the household is making payments on a mortgage or loans secured against the dwelling, regardless of the purpose of the mortgage or secured loan.

Owner without a mortgage

A household’s tenure type is owner without a mortgage if no-one in the household is making payments on a mortgage or loans secured against the dwelling. (Thus persons who have repaid a loan but technically not discharged the associated mortgage are included in this category.)

Principal source of cash income

The source from which the greatest amount of cash income is received. If the total income of the household is zero or negative, the principal source is undefined.

Private dwelling

A self-contained dwelling intended for occupation by one or more usual residents; or movable, makeshift or improvised dwellings occupied by one or more usual residents.

Private dwelling structure

Determined by the structure of the building that contains the dwelling. In this publication, dwellings are grouped into one of four categories:
  • separate house;
  • semidetached;
  • flat; and
  • other private dwelling.

Private landlord

A household paying rent to:
  • a real estate agent;
  • parent or other relative not in the same dwelling; or
  • another person not in the same dwelling.

Recent home buyer household

A household which purchased, built, or otherwise came to own the dwelling in 1997, 1998 or 1999. The number of recent home buyers should not be compared across surveys as the reference periods may differ.

Reference person

The reference person for each household is chosen by applying, to all usual residents aged 15 years and over in the household, the selection criteria below, in order of precedence, until a single appropriate reference person is identified:
  • the person with the highest tenure type ranked from owner without a mortgage, owner with a mortgage, renter, other tenure;
  • the person with the highest income;
  • the eldest person.

For example, in a household containing a lone parent with a non-dependent child, the person with the highest tenure will become the reference person. If the non-dependent child is an owner with a mortgage and the lone parent lives in the dwelling rent free, the non-dependent child will become the reference person. If both individuals have the same tenure, the one with the higher income will be the reference person. However, if both individuals have the same income, the reference person is the elder.

Rent

A return or payment made periodically by a tenant to an owner or landlord in return for lodgement.

Rent/buy (or shared equity) scheme

The household is both purchasing some equity in the dwelling, and paying rent for the remainder.

Rent free

A household where no money is exchanged for lodgement but the household is not an owner of the dwelling.

Renter

A household where money is exchanged to another person or organisation in return for lodging. In this publication, renters are further classified into one of three broad types according to whom rent is paid:
  • State or Territory housing authority;
  • private landlord;
  • other renter.

Repairs and maintenance

Repairs and maintenance involve any work undertaken with the purpose of either preventing deterioration or repairing something to its original condition. Repairs and maintenance are usually of a lesser value than alterations and additions. Some examples include replacing washers, replacing broken roof tiles, re-painting internal walls, etc.

Self-contained dwelling

A dwelling that contains at least cooking, bathing and toilet facilities.

Semidetached

This category covers dwellings with their own private grounds and no dwelling above or below. A key feature of these dwellings is that they are either attached in some structural way to one or more dwellings or are separated from neighbouring dwellings by less than half a metre. Examples include semidetached, row or terrace houses, townhouses, and villa units. Multi-storey townhouses or units are separately identified from those which are single storey.

Separate house

A self-contained dwelling which is separated from other dwellings by at least half a metre. This category also includes houses that have an attached flat (e.g. a granny flat), shop, office, etc. The attached flat will be included in the flat category.

Tenure type

The nature of a person’s or household’s legal right to occupy the dwelling in which they usually reside. It is determined by responses to questions about ownership, payment to purchase, and rental arrangements. In this publication, households are grouped into one of four broad tenure categories:
  • owner without a mortgage;
  • owner with a mortgage;
  • renter; and
  • other tenure.

Unemployed

A person aged 15 years and over who was not employed during the reference week, had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and;
  • was available for work in the reference week, or would have been available except for temporary illness (i.e. lasting for less than four weeks to the end of the reference week); or
  • was waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the reference week and would have started in the reference week if the job had been available then; or
  • was waiting to be called back to a full-time or part-time job from which they had been stood down without pay for less than four weeks up to the end of the reference week (including the whole of the reference week) for reasons other than bad weather or plant breakdown.

Value of dwelling

The estimated value of the dwelling and its land, as estimated and reported by the household respondent. The data are only collected for owner households.

Wage or salary cash income

Gross current usual (weekly equivalent) wages or salary from an employer or own limited liability (incorporated) company.

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Commonwealth of Australia 2014

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