2940.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Details of Overcount and Undercount, Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/06/2017   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The Census of Population and Housing is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and one of the most important. Its objective is to accurately measure the number of people in Australia on Census night, their characteristics, and the dwellings in which they live. Due to its size and complexity, however, it is inevitable that some people will be missed from the Census, some will be counted more than once, and some will be counted in error.

The Census Post Enumeration Survey (PES) is a household survey conducted by the ABS shortly after each Census, in order to provide an independent measure of Census coverage. The PES results are used to determine how many people should have been counted in the Census, how many people were missed (undercount), how many were counted more than once (overcount) and how many were counted in error. It also provides information on the characteristics of those in the population who have been missed or overcounted. Together with the Census counts, these components determine the Census net undercount.

PES estimates of net undercount augment the Census counts for the purpose of deriving estimated resident population (ERP) for Australia and its states and territories.


The Census and Statistics Act 1905 requires the Australian Statistician to conduct a Census every five years. The PES is also conducted every five years, shortly after each Census.

The 2016 PES has a single data release, made available on the ABS website on 27 June 2017. These results are published in conjunction with both Census results and rebased ERP.


The 2016 PES was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level and for each state and territory.

Dwellings in each state and territory were selected at random using a multi-stage area sample. The sample for the 2016 PES consisted of approximately 54,000 private dwellings from the ABS private dwelling and Indigenous Community frame.

Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Sampling error is the error associated with taking a sample of dwellings rather than going to all dwellings in Australia. In this publication the sampling error is measured by the standard error (SE) which is expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Non-sampling errors can occur in any data collection and sources include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording answers by interviewers, and errors in coding or processing of data. Every effort is made to minimise reporting error by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient data processing procedures.


It is important for PES data to be comparable and compatible with previous PESs and also with other data produced by the ABS and wider community. The ABS, and the PES, uses Australian standard classifications, where available and appropriate, to provide data comparability across statistical collections. These include, for example, standards for geographic areas.

PES publications for 1991, 2001, 2006 and 2011 are also available on the ABS website.


This publication contains tables and a summary of findings to assist with the interpretation of the results of the survey. Detailed Explanatory Notes, Technical Notes on Data quality and a Glossary are also included, providing information on the terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.


If the information you require is not available as a standard product, then ABS Consultancy Services can help you with customised services to suit your needs. For inquiries contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. Alternatively, please email client.services@abs.gov.au