1. The standard variable 'Registered marital status' identifies marriage arrangements in Australia, and foreign marriage arrangements, complying with the Marriage Act 1961 and subsequent amendments where those arrangements have an official record. The related variable 'Social marital status' is used to establish the living arrangements of couples in the Australian population. As the two concepts aim to measure different personal characteristics, they serve different purposes, and can be treated as independent variables with separate classifications. It is possible to use the two variables independently, or to cross-classify them, depending on the purposes of the analysis.
2. This standard variable should be used for all collections which aim to identify marriage arrangements with an official record. However, although there is still a need to maintain 'Registered marital status' as a separate concept, a focus on partnerships better reflects the way people live, thereby providing more relevant information on a wider range of issues. Information on living arrangements, which is needed for deriving 'Social marital status', is also an essential input for family coding. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) therefore recommends that the 'Social marital status' concept always be collected when information on living arrangements is sought, whereas the 'Registered marital status' need only be collected where it is specifically required for the purposes of the collection.
3. Terminology used in this standard is defined in the Glossary section of the 'Overview of family, household and income unit standards'.