Income and Housing (Survey of)

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) (previously known as the Survey of Income and Housing Costs (SIHC)) is a household survey which collects information on sources of income, amounts received, housing characteristics, household characteristics and personal characteristics. Income is collected on both a current and financial year basis. In some cycles from 2003-04, information on household net worth is also collected. The survey scope covers residents of private dwellings in both urban and rural areas of Australia. The survey was conducted for most years from 1994-95 to 2003-04 (no survey was run in 1998-99 or 2001-02), from which year it is being conducted biennially.


    The principal objective is to facilitate the analysis and monitoring of the social and economic welfare of Australian residents in private dwellings. The main users are government and other social and economic analysts involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of social and economic policies.

    The major uses for the income data are poverty studies, planning income support, taxation policy and comparing the wellbeing of individuals or groups of individuals.

    The major uses for the housing data are housing affordability studies, housing assistance schemes and the comparison of the costs of various types of tenure.



    The survey collects information from usual residents of private dwellings in urban and rural areas of Australia, covering about 98% of the people living in Australia. Private dwellings are houses, flats, home units, caravans, garages, tents and other structures that were used as places of residence at the time of interview. Long-stay caravan parks are also included. These are distinct from non-private dwellings which include hotels, boarding schools, boarding houses and institutions. Residents of non-private dwellings are excluded.

    The survey also excludes:

    • households which contain members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia
    • households which contain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments
    • households in collection districts defined as very remote (in 2003-04 those in collection districts in defined as Indigenous Communities were also excluded). This has only a minor impact on aggregate estimates except in the Northern Territory where such households account for about 24% of the population.


    Information is collected only from usual residents. Usual residents are residents who regard the dwelling as their own or main home. Others present are considered to be visitors and are not asked to participate in the survey.


    Conceptual framework

    The Survey of Income and Housing is largely consistent with the concepts described in the following documents:

    Final Report and Recommendations: Expert Group on Household Income Statistics (The Canberra Group)

    17th International Conference of Labour Statistician's Resolution on Household Income and Expenditure Statistics

    Main outputs

    Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6523.0) (previously Income Distribution, Australia)

    In its current form, this publication examines the level and distribution of household income for persons in Australia.

    Population units: most income data is presented with respect to numbers of persons, but with persons described in terms of their household characteristics, including household income.

    Type of statistics: the main income concept used is equivalised disposable household income, presented in terms of means, medians, percentiles, income shares and Gini coefficients; the characteristics of different segments of the population are mostly described in terms of the proportion of households with the characteristics concerned.

    Main breakdown categories: income quintiles, principal source of household income, household composition, age of reference person, percentage contribution of government pensions and allowances to income, dwelling tenure type, and state/territory by capital city/ balance of state.

    Household Wealth and Wealth Distribution (ABS cat. no. 6554.0)

    This publication presents estimates of household net worth, or wealth, classified by various characteristics, including summary measures of the distribution of household net worth in Australia. The first issue of this publication was in respect of 2003-04.

    Survey of Income and Housing, Confidentialised Unit Record File (ABS cat. no. 6541.0.30.001) (Survey of Income and Housing Costs, up until 2000-01)

    This is a comprehensive full sample dataset. Data are provided for each household, income unit and person used in the final estimation (except for a very small number of unusual records that may be removed to preserve confidentiality). Data items include household and family relationship codes, demographic, labour force, income and housing data.

    For 2003-04, the SIH CURF was released in conjunction with the Household Expenditure Survey CURF as ABS cat. no. 6540.0.

    Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4130.0.55.001) (previously 4130.0)

    This publication examines housing costs and compares them to household income. It also provides information about the value of owner occupied dwellings and characteristics of recent home buyers.


    The main classifications used in the SIH are Source of Income, Principal Source of Income, Country of Birth, Marital Status, Labour Force Status, Hours Worked, Full-time/Part-time Status, Occupation, Industry, Educational Qualification, Relationship in Household, Dwelling Tenure Type, Landlord Type, Household Composition, Dwelling Structure, Income Unit Type, State, and Part of State.

    Other concepts (summary)

    Gini coefficient; equivalence scale; equivalised, or equivalent, income; gross income; disposable income; quintiles, deciles and percentiles.

    These concepts are described in the explanatory notes, appendices and glossary of Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6523.0) and in Household Expenditure Survey and Survey of Income and Housing: User Guide (ABS cat. no. 6503.0).

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Capital City Statistical Division

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    Households in collection districts defined as very remote are excluded.

    Capital city/Rest of State data is collected for all States. NT estimates are produced for Capital City and Total NT, but are mainly representative of urban areas. ACT data are only compiled at the Territory level.

    2 Yearly

    Frequency comments

    From 1994-95 to 2003-04, the survey was conducted in most years. (No surveys were run in 1998-99 and 2001-02). From 2003-04, it is being conducted biennially.


    Periodic income surveys were conducted every three to four years from 1969 to 1990. These surveys were run over a 3 or 4 month period in the latter part of the year. The Survey of Income and Housing Costs (SIHC) commenced in July 1994. The survey is run throughout the financial year and has been run in most years from 1994-95 to 2003-04, from which time it is being conducted biennially. It was renamed the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) in 2002-03.

    From 1994-95 to 2002-03, the SIH was conducted as part of the Monthly Population Survey (MPS). The sample for the SIH was selected from households that had been respondents for 8 months in the MPS. Information about the demographic and labour force characteristics of the population collected in the Labour Force Survey (the main component of the MPS) was combined with information on income collected in the SIH.

    From 2003-04 the SIH has been conducted as a Special Supplementary Survey. In 2003-04 the SIH was integrated with the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) - this is intended to occur each time the HES is conducted (every 6 years). The integration was achieved by selecting a subsample of the households in the SIH and asking them the additional questions required for HES purposes.


    Data availability comments

    07/02/2008 01:07 PM