2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017  First Issue
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Registered Marital Status (MSTP, IFMSTP)

This variable records a person's formal registered marital status and refers to the legal status of the person. This may not necessarily reflect a person's current living arrangement. This variable is applicable to persons aged 15 years or older.

How this variable is created

The responses to this question are captured automatically from mark-box responses on the form, so the risk of processing error is minimal. In a small proportion of cases (less than 0.5%), respondents provided more than one response to the question. In these cases, responses were accepted in the order they appeared on the form and the extra responses were rejected. An image of this question is provided below.

As Registered Marital Status is a key demographic variable, if there is no response to the question, a response is imputed (or derived to Not Applicable when age is less than 15 years). The variable Imputation Flag for Registered Marital Status indicates if a person's Registered Marital Status was imputed in the Census.

Imputation Flag for Registered Marital Status variable categories are shown below.

    1 Marital status not imputed
    2 Marital status imputed imputed
    @ Not applicable

More information about imputation can be found in the 2016 Census Dictionary.

Variable history

A question on Marital Status has been asked in every Census since 1911. No changes were made for 2016.

Non-response rate

Using the Imputation Flag for Registered Marital Status, the non-response rate for this variable in 2016 was 6.8% (5.2% in 2011). For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

Data usage notes

The Registered Marital Status variable provides data about a person's own current registered marital status, regardless of their reported relationship to another person in their household. The majority of imputed registered marital status are attributed to persons in occupied dwellings on Census Night that did not return a form. A smaller proportion were due to persons who returned a partially completed form without responding to the marital status question.

It should be noted that because of the current laws at the time of Census Night (9th of August, 2016), when referencing Registered Marital Status (MSTP) only opposite-sex couples were classified as “Married”, regardless of what was reported on the form. Users interested in analysing 2016 Census data for same-sex couples who listed their relationship status as “Married” can find further information through the variable Relationship as Reported for Couples (RLCP).

Further Information:

A definition of Registered Marital Status is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.
A definition of Imputation Flag for Marital Status is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.

Household form question image

Question 6 as it appeared on the 2016 Census Household Paper Form:

2016 Household Paper Form - Question 6. What is the person's present marital status?
A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab.