6239.0 - Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia, Aug 2004 to Jun 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/02/2006  First Issue
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1 These Explanatory Notes contain information about two publications, Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia (cat. no. 6239.0) and Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia (cat. no. 6238.0). The statistics presented in both publications were compiled from data collected in the inaugural Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) that was conducted throughout Australia from August 2004 to June 2005 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). In future years, the survey will be conducted over the full financial year. The MPHS was designed to provide statistics annually for a small number of labour, social and economic topics. The topics collected in 2004-05 were:

  • Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation
  • Retirement and Retirement Intentions
  • Household Use of Information Technology

2 For all topics, information on labour force characteristics, education, income and other demographics are also available. In addition to these publications, data from 2004-05 MPHS will also be released as an expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) in 2006.

3 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly LFS, which also applies to the MPHS. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the monthly LFS and the MPHS.


4 The conceptual framework used in Australia's LFS aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in Resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of Australia's labour force statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) which is also available on the ABS web site (Methods, Classifications, Concepts & Standards).


5 ABS interviewers conducted personal interviews by either telephone or at selected dwellings during the period August 2004 to June 2005. Each month a sample of approximately 1,650 dwellings were selected for the MPHS from the responding households in the LFS. In these dwellings, after the LFS had been fully completed for each person, a usual resident aged 18 and over was selected at random and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. Information for this survey was collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses are recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer.


6 The scope of the LFS is restricted to people aged 15 years and over and excludes the following:

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

7 In addition the 2004-05 MPHS excluded the following:
  • people under the age of 18 years
  • people living in private dwellings living in very remote parts of Australia
  • people living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for people with disabilities), and inmates of prisons
  • visitors to private dwellings.

8 The 2004-05 MPHS was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded people living in very remote parts of Australia. The exclusion of these people will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where such people account for around 23% of the population.


9 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 in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


10 The initial sample for the MPHS 2004-05 consisted of 18,148 private dwelling households. Of the 15,524 private dwelling households that remained in the survey after sample loss (i.e. households with LFS non-response, no residents in scope for the LFS, vacant or derelict dwellings and dwellings under construction), approximately 86% were fully responding to the MPHS. The number of completed interviews obtained from these private dwelling households (after taking into account the scope, coverage and subsampling exclusions) was 5,880 for the Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation survey and 6,913 for the Retirement and Retirement Intentions survey.


11 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total in scope population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each sample unit, which, for the MPHS, can either be a person or a household. The weight is a value which indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit. The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks'. Weights are calibrated against population benchmarks to ensure that the survey estimates conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population rather than the distribution within the sample itself.

12 The survey was benchmarked to the estimated civilian population aged 18 years and over living in private dwellings in each state and territory in non-sparsely settled areas. The process of weighting ensures that the survey estimates conform to person benchmarks by state, part of state, age and sex, and to household benchmarks by state, part of state and household composition. These benchmarks are produced from estimates of the resident population derived independently of the survey.


13 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:

  • sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For more information see the Technical Note.
  • non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and effective processing procedures.


14 Occupation data are classified according to the ASCO - Australian Standard Classification of Occupations, Second Edition, 1997 (cat. no. 1220.0).

15 Industry data are classified according to the ANZSIC - Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 1993 (cat. no. 1292.0).

16 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (cat. no. 1269.0).

17 Educational attainment data are classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) (cat. no.1272.0).


18 In the Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation survey, there were 114,500 people who usually worked 0 to 15 hours per week and preferred to work more hours but had not done anything in the four weeks prior to the reference week to obtain more hours of work, for whom availability was not determined. This group of people were not asked when they could start working more hours in those interviews conducted in the non-quarter months (ie September 04, October 04, December 04, January 05, March 05, April 05 and June 05). Information on availability was collected in the LFS in the quarter months and this was used to apportion the 'availability not determined' group to the categories - 'available to start work with more hours and not looking for more hours' and 'not available to start work with more hours and not looking for more hours'. The subset of LFS data used to calculate the proportions matched the scope of the MPHS, and where there were duplicate records across the quarter months, a record was selected at random. The proportions were calculated separately for males and females and for each state and territory. These proportions were then applied to the weighted MPHS estimates of people for whom availability was not determined.


19 Due to differences in the scope and sample size of the MPHS and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some variations between labour force estimates from this survey and those from the LFS.


20 The Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation survey was conducted for the first time in 2004-05, while the Retirement and Retirement Intentions was last conducted in 1997, see Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia (cat. no. 6238.0).

21 The topic Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation is designed to bring various aspects of factors which influence participation into one data source for comparison. The related supplementary surveys of Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6220.0), Underemployed Workers, Australia (cat. no. 6265.0) and Job Search Experience, Australia (cat. no. 6222.0) offer more detailed information on the various populations.

22 Since the 1997 issue of Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia (cat. no. 6238.0) there have been conceptual changes which affect time series comparisons. For instance, in the current issue 'retired from the labour force' is defined as 'persons who had previously worked for two weeks or more and had retired from work or looking for work, and did not intend to look for, or take up, work at any time in the future'. In the 1997 issue, this concept was defined as 'persons who had retired from work or looking for work of more than 10 hours per week, and did not intend to work in the future'. These people are considered fully retired. Persons who have never worked more than 10 hours were also treated as fully retired'. Due to such conceptual changes, users should exercise caution when comparing estimates with previous surveys.


23 The ABS is planning to conduct the 2004-05 topics again during the 2006-07 financial year and two-yearly thereafter. The topics included in the 2005-06 MPHS are:

  • Work related injuries
  • Household use of information technology
  • Participation in sport and physical activity
  • Attendance at selected culture and leisure venues and events.


24 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


25 ABS publications which may also be of interest include:

26 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.