6224.0 - Labour Force Status and other Characteristics of Families, Australia, Jun 2000  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/11/2000   
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1 In June 2000, details of the labour force status of family members and family composition were derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) component of the Monthly Population Survey.

2 For further information about the LFS, see Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0). This publication contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the LFS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing which are relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys.

3 Tables 1 and 2 summarise the relationship in household of persons aged 15 and over. Tables 3-24 provide information about couple, one parent and other families - for example, the number of dependants present, the labour force status of husband, wife or family head. Tables 25-29 contain more detailed estimates of the labour force status of persons aged 15 and over according to their relationship in household, and classified by age, weekly hours worked and other variables.


4 The population survey is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (currently about 30,000 houses, flats, etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels, etc.) and covers about 0.5% of the usually resident civilian population aged 15 and over in Australia. The information is obtained from the occupants of selected dwellings by specially trained interviewers. The interviews for this survey were conducted during the two weeks beginning on Monday 12 June 2000. The information obtained relates to the week before the interview (i.e. the reference week).


5 The LFS includes all persons aged 15 and over except:

  • members of the permanent defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated populations;
  • overseas residents in Australia; and
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

6 From July 1993, Jervis Bay Territory has been excluded from the scope of the survey. Before July 1993, it was included in estimates for the Australian Capital Territory.


7 In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling, and hence has only one chance of selection. The chance of a person being enumerated at two separate dwellings in the one survey is considered to be negligible.

8 Persons who are away from their usual residence for six weeks or less at the time of interview are enumerated at their usual residence (relevant information may be obtained from other usual residents present at the time of the survey).

9 In order to derive estimates of families, the scope of the data is further restricted to usual residents of private dwellings. As a result, all persons living in non-private dwellings (including hotels, motels, hospitals and other institutions) and persons enumerated as visitors to private dwellings are excluded.

10 Also excluded are households where it was not possible to obtain information relating to all the usual residents. For example, households which include a member of the permanent defence forces, who is outside the scope of the population survey, are excluded. In addition, households which, at the time of the survey, have one or more of their usual residents away for more than six weeks, and households from which an incomplete or inadequate questionnaire was obtained for any usual resident are excluded. In June 2000, relationship in household and family type were determined for 94% of the usually resident civilian population aged 15 and over.


11 LFS estimates of persons employed, unemployed and not in the labour force are calculated in such a way as to add up to the independently estimated distribution of the usually resident civilian population aged 15 and over by age, sex and part of state. This procedure compensates for under-enumeration in the survey, and leads to more reliable estimates. Persons who, at the time of interview, are overseas for more than six weeks but for less than 12 months are included in the independent population statistics (benchmarks) and are thus provided for in the calculation of the estimates. The benchmarks are the latest available estimates at the time the LFS is conducted, but they usually differ from the official population estimates subsequently published in Australian Demographic Statistics (Cat. no. 3101.0) because they are projected estimates of population changes.


12 Survey estimates are not revised for the usually small amendments of population benchmarks arising from new data on deaths and overseas and internal migration. Revisions are made, however, after each Census of Population and Housing, and when population estimation bases are reviewed. These revisions affect original, seasonally adjusted and trend estimates. The last such revision was made in February 1999 to take account of the results of the 1996 Census of Population and Housing, which affected all the monthly estimates from January 1995 to January 1999.

13 Population benchmarks used in the estimation of Labour Force Survey data are compiled according to place of usual residence. An explanation of the place of usual residence conceptual basis for population estimates is given in Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 3228.0) which is available on this site under Statistical Concepts Library.


14 The Relationship in household and Family type classifications were introduced for the Labour Force Survey in the March 1994 issue of Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0). Most categories in the two classifications remain comparable with categories in the previous classifications. The cases in which there are differences between the two are discussed in the following paragraphs:
  • Relationship in household. This classification was previously referred to as Family status.
  • Lone parents (previously referred to as Sole parents) now includes parents with non-dependent children (provided those children are without a spouse or children of their own). These Lone parents without dependants are shown separately in table 1.
  • Dependent students (previously Full-time students aged 15-24) now comprise sons or daughters (of a couple or a lone parent) aged 15-19 attending school or aged 15-24 attending a tertiary educational institution full time. Other related full-time students, who were also previously classified as Full-time students aged 15-24 are now included in Other family persons.
  • Other family persons now comprises the previous groups Other family head, excluding those now counted as Lone parents, other related full-time students classified as Full-time students aged 15-24 and Other relative of married couple or family head.

15 Family type. This classification was previously referred to as Type of family. There are three types of families in the new classification, as follows:
  • Couple families is the term used to describe families previously referred to as Married-couple families. Apart from the name change, the new category is otherwise exactly comparable with the old category.
  • One parent families now includes those families in which there is a lone parent with only non-dependent children present. Such families were previously included in Other families.
  • Other families now excludes those families in which there is a lone parent with only non-dependent children present (see above).


16 Estimates for the June 1999 and later surveys are based on population estimates derived from the results of the 1996 Census of Population and Housing (adjusted for under-enumeration). Family estimates from 1994 to 1998 were based on 1991 Census results, with those from 1989 to 1993 based on 1986 Census results.

17 Commencing with the June 1989 issue, the category other families was split into one parent families and other families. Therefore these estimates are not strictly comparable with estimates in issues prior to June 1989. However, in June 1998, 98% of other families with dependants were one parent families.

18 Estimates of the number of husbands and wives with dependants in June 1988, as published in selected tables in the June 1989 issue of this publication, are slightly higher than those published in the June 1988 issue. The estimates of the number of husbands and wives without dependants are correspondingly lower. This is due to a small error made at the computer processing stage of the production of family status estimates in the June 1988 issue of this publication.

19 For the July 1982 and previous surveys, office imputation was undertaken to determine the family status of those persons enumerated in private dwellings where family information could not be obtained for all usual residents, and for those persons enumerated in non-private dwellings or as visitors to private dwellings where family information could not be obtained for each member of the family. Due to the increased demand for family data on a consistent and more regular basis, it was decided to change the processing methodology to eliminate office imputation and rely solely on the reported information. Consequently the scope of the July 1983 and subsequent surveys was narrowed to exclude those respondents for whom it is known that complete family information is difficult to collect (see paragraphs 9 and 10).

20 Surveys from July 1983 onwards are thus not strictly comparable with previous surveys since the persons excluded may have differing family and labour force characteristics to those persons included in the survey. Because of these exclusions the total number of persons with particular family characteristics will also differ between surveys conducted prior to July 1983 and those conducted from July 1983 onwards. Table 1 shows the number of persons excluded from the survey.

21 In the July 1985 and previous surveys, dependants (then described as dependent children) comprised all family members under 15 years of age and all family members aged 15-20 who were full-time students, except those classified as husbands, wives or other family heads. The current definition is given in the Glossary. Tables 24, 25 and 31 of the June 1986 issue of this publication provide an indication of the differences between the student component of the old and new definitions.

22 Since the July 1985 survey was conducted, the definition of employed persons has been extended to include persons who worked without pay between 1 and 14 hours per week in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers). This new definition aligns the Australian labour force concepts with a set of changed international definitions adopted by the International Labour Organisation at the 13th Conference of Labour Statisticians in October 1982.

23 Previously, such persons who worked 1-14 hours or who had such a job but were not at work were defined as either unemployed or not in the labour force, depending on whether they were actively looking and available for work. The changes in definition resulted in original (unadjusted) estimates of employment for March 1986 increasing by 34,900 and unemployment decreasing by 5,800.

24 Estimates of the number of families in June 1986 and subsequent years have been calculated differently to those for earlier years. This is due to the adoption of a new weighting procedure where the family weight is determined using an average of all family members responding to the LFS. Previously, the family weight used to publish estimates of the number of families was determined by nomination of a proxy ‘head of household’ as representative of the family. For these reasons, estimates for the June 1986 and subsequent surveys are not strictly comparable with those for earlier surveys.

25 Although comparisons may generally be made, users should be aware of the above differences.


26 Since the estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from occupants of a sample of dwellings, they may differ from the figures that would have been produced if the information had been obtained from occupants of all dwellings. More information is given in the Technical Notes.


27 The ABS plans to release the next issue of this publication based on information collected in the June 2001 LFS.


28 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:

Australian Social Trends (Cat. no. 4102.0) - issued annually

Career Experience, Australia, November 1998 (Cat. no. 6254.0)

Child Care, Australia, June 1999 (Cat. no. 4402.0)

Children, Australia: A Social Report, 1999 (Cat. no. 4119.0)

Family Characteristics, Australia, April 1997 (Cat. no. 4442.0)

Information Paper: Measuring Employment and Unemployment (Cat. no. 6279.0)

Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (Cat. no. 6232.0)

Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0) - issued monthly

29 Current publications produced by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products, Australia (Cat. no. 1101.0). The ABS also issues, on Tuesdays and Fridays, a Release Advice (Cat. no. 1105.0) which lists publications to be released in the next few days. The Catalogue and Release Advice are available from any ABS office or from the ABS Information Service on the ABS web site www.abs.gov.au.