4442.0.55.001 - Microdata: Family Characteristics, Australia , 2012-13  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/05/2015   
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The 2012-13 Multipurpose Household Survey asked respondents across Australia a range of questions about characteristics and transitions of their families over a 12 month period. Responses to these questions, along with a range of socio-demographic data are available as microdata through TableBuilder files. The microdata files have five levels:

    1. Family Characteristics Household level
    2. Family Characteristics Family level
    3. Family Characteristics Person level
    4. Family Transitions Person level
    5. Family Transitions Births level

These levels are hierarchical. The structure of the file is as follows:
    Family Characteristics Household level
      ----- Family Characteristics Family level
          ----- Family Characteristics Person level
              ----- Family Transitions Person level
                  ----- Family Transitions Births level

This means each person at the Family Transitions and Family Characteristics Person levels is linked to a family and a household. The births level is linked to a person on the Family Transitions person level which is then linked to a family and a household. An identifier is available at each level which allows users to combine data across the levels.

Family Characteristics Household level (counting unit: Households)
This level contains details about households, such as household composition, number of people in the household, weekly household income and geographic details. Households may comprise:
  • one person
  • one family
  • one family and related individual(s)
  • related families with or without unrelated individual(s)
  • unrelated families with or without unrelated individual(s)
  • unrelated individuals.
Family Characteristics Family level (counting unit: Families)
This level contains details about families, such as family composition, number of people in the family, number of children in the family, age of youngest and eldest child in the family, and details of the parent(s) in the family (such as age, marital status and employment status). Families may comprise:
  • couple only
  • couple with no children and with other related individuals
  • couple with children (and with or without other related individuals)
  • one parent family with children (and with or without other related individuals)
  • two or more related individuals (e.g. siblings, cousins etc.)
Families exclude:
  • lone persons
  • two or more un-related individuals
Family Characteristics Person Level (counting unit: Persons)
This level contains details about all persons (aged 0 years and over), such as age, sex, marital and labour force status, person type within family, whether a parent/guardian, child's relationship to parent(s), whether child has natural parent living elsewhere and visitation arrangements.

Family Transitions Person Level (counting unit: Persons)
This level contains details about persons aged 18 years and over who were in scope for the Family Transitions questions. Data includes:
  • current living arrangements, whether person has ever left home to live separately from parents, whether experienced divorce/separation/death of a parent or guardian before turning 18
  • relationship information (including relationship history, current relationship status, previous cohabitation, expectations to marry)
  • details of natural children (such as number of children ever born, age when first child born, whether expects to have (more) children)
  • income and education details.
Family Transitions Births Level (counting unit: Persons)
This level contains details about each episode of birth for persons aged 18 years and over, and relates to the natural children of both males and females. The data available at this level includes:
  • number of children per birth date (multiple births such as twins or triplets are included as one episode of birth)
  • age of parent at the time of the birth
  • time interval between birth episodes
  • year of birth of natural child

As the survey was conducted on a sample of households in Australia, it is important to take account of the method of sample selection when deriving estimates. This is particularly important as a person's chance of selection in the survey varied depending on the state or territory in which they lived. Survey 'weights' are values which indicate how many population units are represented by the sample unit.

There are four weights provided. Special attention must be taken when creating tables to ensure the correct weight is used (e.g. household weights should not be used if person estimates are required).

The weights are:
  • Household weight
  • Family weight
  • Family Characteristics person weight
  • Family Transitions person weight
Where estimates are derived, it is essential that they are calculated by adding the weights (e.g. Person or Household), as appropriate, in each category, and not just by counting the number of records falling into each category. If each person's or household's 'weight' were to be ignored, then no account would be taken of a person's or household's chance of selection in the survey, or of different response rates across population groups, with the result that counts produced could be seriously biased. The application of weights ensures that:
  • person estimates conform to an independently estimated distribution of the population by age, sex, state/territory and part of state
  • household estimates conform to an independently estimated distribution of households by certain household characteristics (e.g. by number of adults and children), state/territory and part of state rather than to the distributions within the sample itself.

Most data items included in the microdata include a 'Not applicable' category. The 'Not applicable' category comprises those respondents who were not asked a particular question and hence are not applicable to the population to which the data item refers. The classification value of the 'Not applicable' category, where relevant, is shown in the data item list in the Downloads tab.


For some data items certain classification values have been reserved as special codes and must not be added as if they were quantitative values. For example, code 999999999 for the data item 'Weekly personal income from all sources', refers to 'Not stated'.


The population relevant to each data item is shown in the data item list and should be considered when extracting and analysing the microdata. The actual population count for each data item is equal to the total cumulative frequency minus the 'Not applicable' category.

Generally, all populations, including very specific populations, can be 'filtered' using other relevant data items. For example, if the population of interest is 'One parent families', any data item with that population (excluding the 'Not applicable' category) can be used as a filter.


Further information about the survey including scope and coverage, survey design, data collection methodology, weighting, benchmarking and estimation, and the reliability of estimates can be accessed from the Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4442.0) Explanatory Notes page.

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