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The Population Census is a valuable data source for estimating the size and geographic distribution of the Australian population, and for analysing the major demographic, social and economic characteristics of the population, particularly for small geographic regions and other small sub-populations. It provides statistics for decision-making by governments, businesses, community organisations and individuals.
A Census is conducted in Australia every five years by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The most recent Census night was Tuesday 8 August 2006. Every person present in Australia on Census night, excluding foreign diplomats and their families, should have been included on a Census form at the place where they stayed.
The Australian Census counts people where they were on Census night. The ABS augments this Census count for net undercount and for Australian residents who were temporarily absent from Australia on Census night, and subtracts the count of overseas visitors temporarily in Australia and enumerated in the Census, to form a basis for the calculation of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) of Australia on a place of usual residence basis.
Accurate ERPs are required for a wide range of uses, including the allocation to states and territories of seats in the Federal House of Representatives, the distribution of Commonwealth payments to states and territories, and demographic, social and economic studies.
Some of the reasons why people are counted more than once (i.e. overcounted) include:
While every effort is made to eliminate these potential causes of error, some undercount and overcount will invariably occur in the Census. Usually more people are missed than overcounted in Australia, so the Census count of the population would be less than the true count. This difference is called net undercount. In this context, 'Census count' includes person records imputed for dwellings that were non-responding in the Census.
PURPOSE OF THIS PAPER
The purpose of this paper is to provide information on the development and conduct of the 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey (PES), and the methodology used to estimate the net undercount of the 2006 Population Census. This is an update to the previous issue of Information Paper: Measuring Net Undercount in the 2006 Population Census, Australia (cat. no. 2940.0.55.001) released on 13 July 2006.
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