Population and Housing (Census of) Post-enumeration Survey

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The Post Enumeration Survey (PES) aims to measure the net census undercount and is conducted three weeks after census night. It collects information about where people were on census night and their characteristics. The PES publishes information showing details of the population and dwelling characteristics of the net undercount in the Census of Population and Housing.

    In 1996, about 32,000 households or 85,000 persons Australia-wide were included in the survey.

    The census provides the basic information from which estimates are made of the resident population. Population estimates need to be as accurate as possible as they are required for the determination of the number of seats each State and Territory will have in the House of Representatives and for the allocation of Commonwealth revenue grants to States and Territories. Population estimates are also used extensively as indicators of population growth and distribution in a wide variety of demographic, social and economic studies. Because population estimates for each State and Territory and Local Government Area are based on census counts, it is important to determine the level of undercounting for each census so that appropriate adjustments can be made.

    It is also important to measure the undercount to evaluate the effectiveness of census collection procedures and to provide users of census data with an assessment of the completeness of the census. This allows areas to be identified in which improvements in future censuses can be made.

    The main method used in measuring undercount is the Post Enumeration Survey (PES), a sample survey of the population that begins three weeks after census night. Output from the PES takes account of demographic analysis.

    While similar to that of the census some persons, dwellings and areas were excluded from the Post Enumeration Survey (PES). The PES included all persons who should have been counted in the census except those who were in non-private dwellings at the time of the PES, lived in sparsely settled and remote areas, had gone overseas or died since census night.

    Non-private dwellings such as hotels and motels, hospitals and other institutions were not included in the PES. The vast majority of residents in non-private dwellings would have been short-term residents and would have a chance of being included in the PES at their place of usual residence where information on such persons would be obtained. Consequently a small number of long-term residents of non-private dwellings were not covered by the PES.

    For practical reasons, dwellings in very sparsely settled areas (that is, Statistical Local Areas with less than 0.57 dwellings per square kilometre) were not included in the PES. The PES was also not conducted in remote areas or in discrete communities, where special census procedures were used to contact and count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In order to conduct the PES in these areas the same contacts and procedures adopted for the census would be relied upon and therefore underenumeration could not be accurately and independently measured. A concern is that these exclusions from the PES represent key enumeration problem areas. However, this concern needs to be balanced by the relatively small population involved and that often these areas and dwellings would require the same enumeration contacts and procedures in the PES as used in the census, thus compromising the independent nature of the PES.


    Conceptual framework
    The PES draws its sample frame from the ABS Monthly Population Survey. A parallel sample is employed, with a double cluster used in the Northern Territory.

    For more information see 3228.0 - Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods and
    Demography Working Paper 99/4 - Measuring Census Undercount in Australia and New Zealand.

    Main outputs
    Census net undercount rates broken down into various categories. For persons, these categories include State/Territory of actual location, State/Territory of usual residence, resident/visitor status, capital city and balance of state, age and sex, marital status, and birthplace. Net undercount rates are also produced for dwellings and households, both at the capital city and balance of state level.

    The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) is used for all categories produced.

    Other concepts (summary)

    1. National & State/Territory\1.01 Australia
    1. National & State/Territory\1.02 All States & Territories
    2. Parts of State\2.12 Other Geographic Areas\2.12.03 Part of State Metropolitan
    2. Parts of State\2.12 Other Geographic Areas\2.12.04 Part of State-Extra Metropolitan

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    5 Yearly

    Frequency comments
    The survey is conducted three weeks after Census night.

    The PES has been undertaken in Australia for each census from 1966. From 1966 until 1976, the PES had three components. It evaluated coverage of persons (that is, the extent of the undercount of individuals), coverage of dwellings (where a separate sample of dwellings was used to compare dwellings listed by PES interviewers with those compiled by census collectors) and the accuracy of responses to particular census questions.

    From 1981 on, the PES has been designed solely to obtain a measure of census coverage incorporating information on the undercount of persons and some information on dwellings.


    Data availability comments

    28/06/2004 04:37 PM