Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
2081.0 - Australians' journeys through life: Stories from the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset, 2006 - 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/12/2013  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product


An introduction to the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset

The aim of the Census, from the very beginning, has been to help us to acquire the 'knowledge of ourselves' needed to advance our nation (Knibbs, 1911). Since 1911, the Census has informed policy and decision making in Australia; providing a five-yearly self-portrait, allowing Australians to study small parts of our nation in detail or to step back to focus on the big picture of Australia and Australians' journeys through life.

The Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD) builds on this rich history and significantly enhances the evidence base that can be drawn from the Census. The ACLD is a longitudinal dataset in which a sample of records from the 2006 Census are linked to records from the 2011 Census. The ACLD, which is based on a sample of about one million records, is Australia’s largest longitudinal dataset.

In taking a 'longitudinal' view of the journeys of individuals, the ACLD will uncover new insights into the dynamics and transitions that drive social and economic change over time, as well as providing insights into how these vary for diverse population groups and geographies.

The initial release of the ACLD follows the journeys of around one million people across the 2006 and 2011 Censuses. As more waves of Census data are added to the ACLD in the future, the power of the dataset to enable governments and researchers to better understand changes in society will only increase, providing a significant and enduring return on the investment that is made in each five-yearly Census.

This article, the first in a series of articles analysing and demonstrating ACLD data, gives just a small glimpse of the type and range of information that the ACLD can provide and focuses on a number of key questions:
how has peoples' labour force status changed?
have employed people changed industries?
are school leavers continuing on to further study and/or moving into the workforce?
how many people are taking up, continuing or ceasing providing unpaid care for others?
how many people are taking up, continuing or ceasing volunteering?
has there been a change in English proficiency for recent migrants?

The point in time data presented in this article are sourced from either the 2006 or 2011 Census. The estimates of transitions between 2006 and 2011 are sourced from the ACLD.

How did peoples' labour force status and industry change?

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of Australians aged 15 years and over increased from 15.9 to 17.4 million. Almost four-fifths (78%) of people in this age group in 2006 had the same labour force status in 2006 and 2011. Of the Australians who had the same labour force status, more than two-thirds (68%) were employed in both years, while almost 31% were not in the labour force and less than 1% were unemployed.

Most Australians whose labour force status had changed had moved from either not being in the labour force to being employed (38% of people who changed labour force status between 2006 and 2011), or from employment to not in the labour force (37% of people who changed labour force status between 2006 and 2011) (Graph 1). These transitions tended to be experienced by either younger or older people. Just over one-third (34%) of Australians who transitioned from not in the labour force into employment were aged 15-19 years in 2006, while just under one-third (33%) of people who transitioned from employment into not in the labour force were aged 55-64 years in 2006.


1. CHANGES IN LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), People who changed labour force status between 2006 and 2011
Graph Image for CHANGES IN LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), Of people who changed labour force status between 2006 and 2011

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people where labour force status was not stated in either 2006 or 2011. (b) Not in the Labour Force.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ABS cat. no. 2080.0).



The industry composition of Australia's workforce continues to change. In addition, different industries have experienced different rates of staff retention. The ACLD allows us to look at people in each industry in 2006 and whether they were in the same industry in 2011.

The Health care and social assistance and Education and training industries had the highest staff retention rates, with almost two-thirds (63%) of people working in these industries in 2006 working in the same industry in 2011. In contrast, the Administrative and support services (29%), Arts and recreation services (30%) and Accommodation and food services (30%) industries had the lowest staff retention rates. The Mining industry had a 50% retention rate, while it was 45% for Manufacturing and 37% for Retail trade.


2. PROPORTION OF PEOPLE IN EACH INDUSTRY IN 2006 WHO WERE WORKING IN SAME INDUSTRY IN 2011(a)(b)
Graph: Proportion of People in each industry in 2006 who were in same industry in 2011


Are school leavers still studying or working?

In 2006, there were 450,000 Australians who were enrolled in Year 11 or Year 12 (that is, they had completed Year 10 and were enrolled in a secondary school, including high school, secondary college or senior high school).

In 2011, almost half (47%) of this group had moved into employment and were not undertaking study at a higher education institution (Technical or Further Educational Institution, TAFE College, University or other Tertiary Institution). More than half (56%) of these people had obtained a non-school qualification between 2006 and 2011.

About 29% of those who had been enrolled in Year 11 or 12 in 2006 were combining work and study at a higher education institution in 2011. A further 14% were studying at a higher education institution but not working, and 10% were not working or studying.


3. EMPLOYED AND/OR UNDERTAKING HIGHER STUDIES(a) IN 2011(b), People who were enrolled in Year 11 or 12 in 2006
Graph Image for WHETHER EMPLOYED AND OR UNDERTAKING HIGHER STUDIES(a) IN 2011, People enrolled in Year 11 or 12 in 2006

Footnote(s): (a) Study at higher education institutions, including Technical or Further Educational Institutions (including TAFE Colleges), Universities and other Tertiary Institutions. (b) Excludes people where labour force status or education status was not stated in either 2006 or 2011.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ABS cat. no. 2080.0).



Of the Australians who were studying in Year 11 or 12 in 2006, 60% were enrolled at Government schools, 22% were in Catholic schools and 18% were in other non-Government schools. Graph 4 shows that their study and employment status in 2011 varied according to the type of school in which they had been enrolled in 2006.

A greater proportion of Catholic or other non-Government school leavers were combining study at a higher educational institution with work in 2011 compared to Government school leavers. Government school leavers were more likely to be either employed and not studying, or neither studying at higher educational institutions nor employed.

School leavers from non-Government schools (other than Catholic schools) were more likely than Government or Catholic school leavers to be studying at a higher education institution but not working.


4. EMPLOYED AND/OR UNDERTAKING HIGHER STUDIES(a) IN 2011(b), People who were enrolled in Year 11 or 12 in 2006 - by School type in 2006
Graph Image for WHETHER EMPLOYED AND OR UNDERTAKING HIGHER STUDIES(a) IN 2011 - by School type in 2006

Footnote(s): (a) Study at higher education institutions, including Technical or Further Educational Institutions (including TAFE Colleges), Universities and other Tertiary Institutions. (b) Excludes people where labour force status or education status was not stated in either 2006 or 2011.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ABS cat. no. 2080.0).



In 2006, there were 11,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who were enrolled in Year 11 or Year 12 (that is, they had completed Year 10 and were enrolled in a secondary school, including high school, secondary college or senior high school).

About 43% of this group had moved into employment and were not undertaking study at a higher education institution in 2011, while 14% were combining work with study at a higher education institution. Just under one-third (32%) were neither studying (at higher a education institution) nor employed in 2011. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students living in major cities were more likely to be employed and studying at a higher education institution in 2011, and less likely to be neither studying nor employed, than those who were in regional or remote areas.

Half the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who were enrolled in Year 11 or 12 in 2006 but who were not studying at a higher education institution or employed in 2011, had completed Year 12.


5. EMPLOYED AND/OR UNDERTAKING HIGHER STUDIES(a) IN 2011(b), People who were enrolled in Year 11 or 12 in 2006 - by Remoteness: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Graph Image for WHETHER WORKING AND OR UNDERTAKING HIGHER STUDIES (a) IN 2011 BY REMOTENESS

Footnote(s): (a) Study at higher education institutions, including Technical or Further Educational Institutions (including TAFE Colleges), Universities and other Tertiary Institutions. (b) Excludes people where labour force status or education status was not stated in either 2006 or 2011.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ABS cat. no. 2080.0).



Who continued to provide unpaid assistance?

The number of Australians who provided unpaid assistance to a person with a disability, long term illness or problems relating to old age rose from 1.6 million to 1.9 million between 2006 and 2011 (from 11% to 12% of the population aged 15 years and over). Graph 6 shows that of all people who provided unpaid assistance in either 2006 or 2011 (or both), just over 20% provided unpaid assistance in both years.


6. PEOPLE WHO PROVIDED UNPAID ASSISTANCE IN 2006 AND/OR 2011(a), As a proportion of all people who provided unpaid assistance in 2006, 2011 or both
Graph Image for PEOPLE WHO PROVIDED UNPAID ASSISTANCE IN 2006 AND OR 2011

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people where it was not stated if they provided unpaid assistance in either 2006 or 2011.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (2080.0).



Who continued to volunteer?

The volunteering rate remained relatively steady between 2006 and 2011, at around one-fifth of the adult population in both years. However, this apparent stability in the rate disguises the fact that a large number of Australians have moved into and out of volunteering. Graph 7 shows that just over one-third of Australians who volunteered did so in both 2006 and 2011, one-third volunteered in 2006 but not in 2011 and just under one-third volunteered in 2011 but not 2006.


7. PEOPLE WHO VOLUNTEERED IN 2006 AND/OR 2011(a), As a proportion of all people who volunteered in 2006, 2011 or both
Graph Image for PEOPLE WHO VOLUNTEERED IN 2006 AND OR 2011

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people where it was not stated if they volunteered in either 2006 or 2011.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ABS cat. no. 2080.0).



Is the English proficiency of recent migrants improving?

Migrants represent a large proportion of Australia's population: in 2011, 5.3 million Australians (approximately 1 in 4) were born overseas. One difficulty that many migrants face when moving to Australia is having limited spoken English language skills. The ACLD allows us to look at how recently arrived migrants have fared, in this example by looking at how they have developed their English language skills over the 5 years between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses.

In 2006, one-fifth of people born overseas who had arrived in Australia between 2001 and 2006 spoke English not well or not at all. However, by 2011, 56% of these people spoke English well or very well. People for whom English proficiency remained at the 'not at all' level between 2006 and 2011 were more likely to be older (aged 55 and over).


8. OVERSEAS MIGRANTS WHO ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA BETWEEN 2001 AND 2006(a), Proficiency in spoken English in 2011, As a proportion of all people who spoke English 'Not well' or 'Not at all' in 2006
Graph Image for OVERSEAS MIGRANTS WHO ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA BETWEEN 2001 AND 2006

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people where level of English proficiency was not stated in either 2006 or 2011.

Source(s): Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ABS cat. no. 2080.0).



Where to from here?

This article has provided just a few brief insights into the types of analyses that can be undertaken using the ACLD. Throughout 2014, the ABS will produce a series of articles from the ACLD which are expected to cover the following broad areas of interest: work; housing; transport; mobility; disability and caring; and educational attainment.

The ACLD is now available, in ABS TableBuilder, from Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ABS cat. no. 2080.0). ABS TableBuilder allows users to build their own customised tables to undertake further analysis and research. As future waves of data are added from future Censuses, the ACLD will become an even richer resource and allow further exploration of the numerous and complex journeys that make up peoples' lives.


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.