Research finds dollar value for the Australian Census (Media Release)

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23 September 2019
Embargoed: 11:30 am (Canberra time)

Every $1 spent on the Census generates $6 to the Australian economy latest research finds.

The ABS welcomes findings released today, from Lateral Economics, estimating that for every $1 invested in the Census $6 of value was generated to the Australian economy.

The Valuing the Australian Census report estimated an annual benefit of $800 million from the Census, compared to a five year total cost of $670 million. It also found five main categories of value for Census: services planning and targeting, infrastructure planning and targeting, improved policy design, commercial uses and public goods.

Dr Nicholas Gruen of Lateral Economics said the report examines value in terms of major and minor economic value and non-economic value to the Australian community.

“Our research and extensive consultation across the Australian public and private sectors led us to the clear conclusion that Australia’s Census generates far more economic benefits than costs,” said Dr Gruen.

“The Australian Census plays a critical role in building evidence and decision making to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, fairness and integrity of Australia’s economic and social infrastructure. We conclude that the Australian community’s collective effort every five years to undertake the Census is more than worth it.”

Census and Statistical Services Division General Manager Chris Libreri said the ABS commissioned Lateral Economics following similar valuation studies undertaken internationally.

“The independent valuation quantifies, for the first time, the cost benefits of running the Census in Australia,” said Mr Libreri.

“We understand that the Census is widely used, and we are pleased to see the range and diversity of use of Census data across all sectors of government, business and society.”

The next five-yearly Australian Census is set to take place in 2021. The Census provides an important snapshot of the economic, social and cultural make-up of Australia.

The full Value of the Australian Census report, published by Lateral Economics, can be accessed on the ABS website.

Media Note:
    • The ABS commissioned Lateral Economics - a consultancy firm, headed by Dr Nicholas Gruen, an eminent economist - to undertake an independent valuation of the Census
    • The report was peer reviewed by Australian National University Emeritus Professor Bob Gregory
    • Dr Nicholas Gruen from Lateral Economics can be contacted for interview on 0403 077 732 or