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4914.0.55.001 - Age Matters, Nov 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/12/2009   
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WELCOME

Introduction and news
Release of new Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index
Household Expenditure Survey 2009-10
Statistical resources


INTRODUCTION AND NEWS


Welcome to the November 2009 edition of Age Matters. This newsletter provides the latest ABS news, releases, findings and upcoming events, concerning statistics on older people.

Following the government's Pension Review Report in February 2009, the ABS was funded to produce a new index that more specifically reflects changes in the living costs of pensioners and other households receiving income support from the government. In August, the ABS released the first issue of the new Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI). Over time, the ABS will progressively improve the index to better reflect the price changes experienced by pensioners and beneficiaries. The main improvement will be to collect household expenditure patterns specifically from pensioners and other beneficiaries in the Household Expenditure Survey (HES). The 2009-10 HES is currently being conducted. Further information on both of these developments is included in this newsletter.

Links are provided to selected resources that may be of interest to some clients of this newsletter:
  • Census TableBuilder is a new online tool, released in August 2009, to improve access to Census data
  • CURF Microdata News is a regular newsletter which provides news about developments in accessing and using ABS micro data i.e. Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs)
  • The National Statistical Service website provides information about statistical resources, training and events.

Several articles and analyses are included from recent ABS publications, covering health, health literacy, housing mobility and dwelling conditions.

There have been some recent organisational and staffing changes in the ABS relating to its work in this field. If you have any queries relating to the information in this newsletter, please contact Heather Burgess on (02) 6252 7015 or at <heather.burgess@abs.gov.au>.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Age Matters.


John Billing
Director
Living Conditions

RELEASE OF NEW PENSIONER AND BENEFICIARY LIVING COST INDEX

The quarterly Consumer Price Index (CPI) provides a general measure of changes in prices of consumer goods and services purchased by Australian households. The CPI has been specifically designed as a general measure of price inflation for the household sector as a whole. It measures the changes in the price of a fixed basket of goods and services acquired by household consumers. One of its current uses is to index government pensions.

The government's Pension Review Report completed by Dr Jeff Harmer in February 2009 followed a comprehensive review of Australia's pension system. In considering indexation arrangements, detailed analysis of the CPI and other measures of price changes led the Review to conclude that "an alternative measure of price change which is more fully responsive to specific changes in pensioners' purchasing power would be appropriate".

In response to the Review, the government has funded the ABS to produce a new index that more specifically reflects changes in the living costs of pensioners and other households receiving income support from the government. In the 2009–10 Budget, the government indicated it will use this index, to be known as the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI), to index base pension rates where it is higher than the CPI. The ABS commenced publishing the PBLCI on a quarterly basis on 24 August 2009.

Initially, the PBLCI will be constructed as a by–product of processing the quarterly CPI. Over time, the ABS will progressively improve the index to better reflect the price changes experienced by pensioners and beneficiaries. The main improvement will be to collect household expenditure patterns specifically from pensioners and other beneficiaries of government benefits. Information on associated changes to the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) are provided below.



HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE SURVEY 2009-10

The Household Expenditure Survey (HES) is one of the most important social surveys conducted by the ABS. It is run every six years and provides a vital data source for the analysis of the spending habits of Australian households. The 2009-10 HES is currently in the field with households being surveyed throughout the year. In this HES, an extra 3,000 households whose main source of income is from government pensions, benefits and/or allowances have been included in the survey, in addition to the 6,800 households already selected to represent the general population across Australia.

One of the main uses for information collected in this survey is to update the goods and services included in the CPI. This additional sample of households will enable the expenditure patterns of age pension and other government benefit recipients to be compared with the general population. This information will be used to significantly improve the quality of the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) by ensuring the goods and services included in the Index are representative of the actual spending patterns of pensioners and other beneficiaries.

HES 2009-10 will provide an extremely rich dataset for researchers, not just on the incomes, expenditures and wealth of the general population, but particularly for pensioners and beneficiaries. Households surveyed in the HES are also included in the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH), which is conducted on an integrated basis with the HES, whenever the HES is conducted. Results from the 2009-10 HES and SIH are expected to become available from mid 2011.


STATISTICAL RESOURCES


Census TableBuilder - Released 28 August

Census TableBuilder is an online tool which allows you to create your own tables of Census data by accessing all variables contained in the Census Output Record File including age, education, housing, income, transport, religion, ethnicity, occupation, family composition and more for all ABS geographic areas. You decide to count either persons, families or dwellings, how to structure the data and which variables to include. Almost all variables from the 2006 Census Dictionary are available plus some additional popular requests.

The product is designed to provide clients with the highest degree of freedom in selecting and combining data items and the geographical areas most suited to their needs. You can access data for areas as small as a Collection District (approximately 225 households) or as large as an entire state or territory or all of Australia. TableBuilder also allows you the freedom to select and combine areas and data that interest you by creating your own customised geographic areas or custom data groups.

TableBuilder is a charged subscription service aimed at users with a high level of understanding of Census data concepts. Users will be required to complete an application and undertaking form as part of the registration process. A set of interactive online training modules and a comprehensive user manual are also provided. For more information see the TableBuilder Product Brief . To register, download the Application and Undertaking Form.



CURF Microdata News

CURF Microdata News provides information for Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) Microdata users on issues and developments in access and use of CURF Microdata. The newsletter covers available and forthcoming microdata releases, terms and conditions of access, responsible access to microdata and best practice tips, pricing, microdata research outputs, frequently asked questions, and information about applying for access to ABS CURF microdata.

Recent CURF releases of potential interest to newsletter clients include:
  • Microdata: Income and Housing, Basic and Expanded CURF, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 6541.0.30.001) contains information collected from persons aged 15 years and over resident in private dwellings throughout Australia. This includes detailed income information at the household, person and income unit levels; housing characteristics, including tenure and housing costs, dwelling characteristics, mobility, finance and rental lease arrangements; child care usage and costs, and certain demographic and socio–economic characteristics. Released: 20 August 2009
  • Microdata: National Health Survey, Basic and Expanded CURF, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 4324.0.55.001) contains information from the third in the series of regular triennial health surveys conducted under the partnership arrangements between the ABS and the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA). This includes information about the health status of the population, including long term medical conditions experienced; health–related aspects of people's lifestyle, such as smoking, exercise and alcohol consumption; the use of health services, such as consultations with doctors and other health professionals, and other actions people have recently taken for their health; and certain demographic and socio–economic characteristics. Released: 14 September 2009


National Statistical Service

Information about statistical references and resources, links to the National Statistical Service (NSS) newsletters, and dates for the National Statistical Seminar Series can all be found on the NSS website at http://www.nss.gov.au.

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