1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2007-08  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/12/2008   
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Contents >> Section V - Performance Information >> Chapter 13 - Extended analysis of statistics


There is rich information in ABS statistics, and the Bureau seeks to ensure users can benefit from this information to the greatest extent possible. The ABS releases data through standard products (for example, publications and confidentialised unit record files), and also produces customised data tables on a consultancy basis. However, as these outputs cannot meet all user needs or fully utilise the potential of the data, the ABS seeks to add value to its statistics and extend the range of statistical outputs produced. Specifically, we undertake the following activities to add value to ABS statistics:

  • production of analytical and compendium publications, such as Australian Economic Indicators (AEI), Measuring Australia’s Progress (MAP) and Australian Social Trends (AST)

  • research and development into the production of complex statistical measures such as measures of human capital, socio-economic indexes and seasonal or calendar series adjustment

  • conducting and publishing the results of policy-relevant analyses of unit record data, which, due to confidentiality constraints, are not widely available for analysis

  • bringing data together to produce modelled, synthesised or enhanced statistics, and

  • exploring relationships in statistics to ensure the quality of ABS outputs, and understand the movements and trends in various series.


    Early in 2007-08, the ABS restructured and refocused its analytical resources to build a stronger capacity for analysis across social, economic and environmental issues. As part of this process, two additional analysis branches were created within the ABS, with one having the aim of undertaking applied social analysis and reporting, and the other applied economic analysis and reporting. These branches, combined with an existing methodological analysis branch, form the core of the ABS Analytical Community, which is intended to be a vehicle to produce analytical outputs and services, and to disseminate analytical skills and expertise more broadly. The analysis branches are governed by an internal steering committee, which considers the high level strategic issues facing the statistical analysis agenda within the ABS. The internal committee also receives advice from an external reference group.

    Together, the three analysis branches bring a wealth of technical, methodological and analytical capability to the ABS and offer an opportunity for the ABS to produce increased value-added statistical outputs.


    The ABS produces a number of analytical reports that provide information on social and economic conditions and progress in Australia, to governments and the community. The reports draw together data and analysis from within the ABS, and from a range of sources. They include analysis of current circumstances, changes to circumstances over time, ways that different groups of people have been affected by change, and the various factors that may have accounted for observed trends. In addition, analyses explore the interrelationships between the economic, social and environmental aspects of life.

    The following flagship publications were released during 2007–08:


    Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP): Summary Indicators (cat. no. 1383.0.55.001) is part of the suite of Measures of Australia’s Progress products produced by the ABS. This suite includes Measures of Australia’s Progress (cat. no. 1370.0), which presents a detailed set of indicators every five years, and Measures of Australia’s Progress: At a Glance(cat. no. 1383.0.55.002), a small summary booklet released annually. The MAP products are designed to inform Australians of changes in their lives and the human and natural environment.

    MAP: Summary Indicators provides a summary of measures relating to the 14 headline dimensions of progress. Where available, the summary presents the headline indicators at the national level, and a brief summary discussion about the measure and associated trends. Topics include:

  • health

  • education and training

  • work

  • national income

  • economic hardship

  • national wealth

  • housing

  • productivity

  • the natural landscape

  • the air and atmosphere

  • oceans and estuaries

  • family, community and social cohesion

  • crime, and

  • democracy, governance and citizenship.

    Data are drawn from ABS and non-ABS sources. The 2008 issue was released in April, and, for the first time, included tables containing state and territory level data for each of the indicators.


    Australian Economic Indicators (AEI) (cat. no. 1350.0) is a monthly publication, drawing together ABS and other data, to provide a compendium of key national, state and international economic time series. It also contains feature articles. This monthly flagship publication was first released in 1991 and has remained consistently popular with users.


    Australian Social Trends (AST) (cat. no. 4102.0) is an annual publication containing articles on contemporary social issues, as well as a range of social indicators that present an overview of some key social trends in the various areas of social concern (such as health, work, and family and community). AST brings together information from a range of areas to address complex social issues. The 2007 issue, released in August 2007, included the following articles:

  • recent increases in Australia’s fertility

  • lifetime marriage and divorce trends

  • overweight and obesity

  • training for a trade

  • labour force participation—an international comparison

  • trends in household consumption

  • wealth in homes of owner-occupier households, and

  • interpersonal violence.


    Industry level multifactor productivity estimates are now planned for release on an annual basis (see ABS cat. no. 5260.0.55.001 and 5260.0.55.002). These estimates provide additional value to the already established market sector productivity estimates released annually through the Australian National Accounts.


    The human capital flows release (see ABS cat. no. 1351.0.55.023) adds to the ongoing development of the human capital work program within the ABS, with a longer-term view to provide additional input into analyses of productivity, the returns to education, and other aspects of economic and social returns to human capital.


    The ABS Census Data Enhancement project aims to enhance the value of Census of Population and Housing data, by creating from it a 5% sample of the Australian population that can be linked between the 2006 Census and subsequent censuses. The resulting Statistical Longitudinal Census Dataset (SLCD) will have potential to provide information on changing patterns of population and housing over time. Analysing these data in a confidential environment provides an opportunity for the ABS to inform government on areas of need, deliver evidence to underpin the development of policy and programs, and assist in their evaluation.

    The project has proceeded in line with the statement of intention published on the ABS website in August 2005. Work in 2007–08 focused on assessing matching methodologies, undertaking data matching, validating results and developing options for selection of the SLCD sample in future Censuses.

    A number of quality studies have also been undertaken in conjunction with this project, to be used by the ABS to plan future linkages across census data and with other datasets, subject to funding availability. Studies to date have focused on Indigenous mortality data, migration, census management and undercoverage in the labour force survey.

    More detail on these analyses is outlined in the Information Paper, Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update (cat. no. 2062.0).


    The ABS regularly reviews the methodology used to produce statistics, to enhance the usefulness of data and to encourage and inform decision making amongst governments and the community. Analytical work undertaken by the ABS provides opportunities to incorporate improvements and new approaches, where appropriate. In 2007–08, the ABS undertook a range of analytical work, including:


    Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001) is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2006 Census information. The indexes can be used to explore different aspects of socio-economic conditions by geographic areas. For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA score, which shows how disadvantaged that area is compared with other areas in Australia. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions of people living in an area, and the indexes take into account a range of factors in determining socio-economic conditions. SEIFA was released as a suite of products, comprised of the SEIFA indexes (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001), the Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0), and a technical paper, Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)—Technical Paper, 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0.55.001).


    The ABS publishes quarterly estimates of the change in the price of established houses in Australia, which are based on a method that has developed over time and always involved some form of stratification. The established House Price Index (HPI) methodology is currently based on attributes broadly defined as the structural, locational and neighbourhood characteristics of suburbs. Analysis indicated that a refined stratification method could provide enhanced measurement of the pure price evolution of the housing stock. This analysis was reviewed at the June 2008 meeting of the Methodology Advisory Committee, with the aim of dissemination later in 2008.


    Innovation is widely recognised as a major source of trend multi-factor productivity growth, economic growth, and ultimately, growth in gross domestic product per capita. A program of ABS research is currently investigating innovation in Australian businesses, including identification of the drivers of innovation, and analysis of skills shortages which hamper innovation. In 2008, findings to date of this research program were submitted to the Review of the National Innovation System, to assist with policy deliberations. It is anticipated that a number of ABS Research Papers will be released in the future as the research program continues.

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