6239.0 - Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia, Jul 2008 to Jun 2009 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2009   
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1 The statistics presented in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) that was conducted throughout Australia in the 2008-09 financial year as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). The MPHS was designed to provide statistics annually for a small number of labour, social and economic topics. The topics collected in 2008-09 were:

2 For all topics, information on labour force characteristics, education, income and other demographics are also available. In addition to these publications, data from the 2008-09 MPHS will also be released as an expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) in 2010.

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 apply to the MPHS. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing which are 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).


5 ABS interviewers conducted personal interviews by either telephone or at selected dwellings during the 2008-09 financial year. Each month a sample of 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 15 years and over was selected at random and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. Information 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 people:
  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and population estimates
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants).

7 In addition the 2008-09 MPHS excluded the following:
  • people 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.

8 For the Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation topic, the scope was further restricted to people aged 18 years and over.

9 The 2008-09 MPHS was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded people living in very remote parts of Australia overall. The exclusion of these people is expected to have only minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except for the Northern Territory where such people account for around 23% of the population.


10 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.


11 The initial sample for the MPHS 2008-09 consisted of approximately 18,000 private dwelling households. Of the 15,233 private dwelling households that remained in the survey after sample loss (e.g. 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 scope, coverage and subsampling exclusions) was 5,243 for the Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation survey.


12 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.

13 The survey was benchmarked to the estimated civilian population aged 15 years and over living in private dwellings in each state and territory, excluding the scope exclusions listed under Explanatory Notes 6 to 8. 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 independently of the survey.


14 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.


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

16 Occupation data are classified according to the ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 (cat.no. 1220.0).

17 Industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

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


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 last conducted in the 2006-07 financial year. Results of this survey were published in:


21 Care should be taken in interpreting the data in the 'All reasons not available to start work/more hours' and 'Main reason not available to start work/more hours' items. Some people with young children indicated that 'Home duties' was their reason for not being available for work, rather than 'Caring for children'.

22 The following are new data items available to the Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation survey for the 2008-09 year. For a more detailed list of categories available for these data items, see data cube Appendix 1 - B&I and R&RI 2008-09 Data Items List.

Incentives to join/increase participation in the labour force
  • Work related incentives e.g. ability to work part-time hours, vary start and finish times
  • Financial incentives e.g. ability to keep more of pay, maintain most of any welfare benefits or allowances
  • Childcare related incentives eg. ability to access to childcare places, financial assistance with childcare costs
  • Caring related incentives e.g. ability to access to residential or aged care
  • Other incentives e.g. less paperwork from government support agencies
  • Lowest gross wage per hour that respondent would work for
  • Whether respondent would return to work if important conditions were available

23 The purpose of these items was to find out what would encourage people to return to work or increase their participation. A range of incentives were identified e.g. work related, caring related etc. with respondents asked whether these incentives were 'Very important', 'Somewhat important' or 'Not important at all' to them.

24 The following items are also new for 2008-09:
  • Self assessed health status
  • All reasons not available to start work/more hours


25 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again (for core topics only) during the 2010-11 financial year.


26 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.



27 An electronic version of the tables released in this publication is available on the ABS web site in spreadsheets (cat. no. 6239.0). The spreadsheets present the tables and the related relative standard errors (RSEs) for each publication table.

Unit record file

28 An expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) will be released in early 2010 from the 2008-09 MPHS subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician. This CURF will be accessible only through the RADL. The CURF will be available in SAS, STATA and SPSS format. A full range of up-to-date information about the availability of ABS CURFs and about applying for access to CURFs is available via the ABS website (see Services - CURF Microdata). For inquiries regarding CURFs, contact ABS CURF Management Unit via email at microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone (02) 6252 7714.


29 ABS publications which may also be of interest include:
30 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the Statistics Page on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.