3317.0.55.002 - Information Paper: ABS Causes of Death Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2006  
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Statistics need to be arranged in a coherent structure for compilation and analysis, and to facilitate comparison and combining with other statistical series. This chapter outlines the standard, socio-demographic, and geographic classifications used to aggregate causes of death statistics.


A range of socio-demographic data is available from the causes of death collection. Standard classifications used in the presentation of causes of death statistics include age, sex, birthplace, marital status, multiple birth, occupation and Indigenous status. Statistical standards for social and demographic variables have been developed by the ABS.

For further Information regarding standard demographic classifications (e.g. age and sex) refer to 1285.0 - Demographic Variables, 1999

Marital Status

Marital status is a core variable in a wide range of social, labour and demographic statistics. Its main purpose is to establish the living arrangements of couples in the Australian population. These living arrangements may be based on a legal concept (i.e. registered marriage), or a social, marriage-like arrangement (i.e. de facto marriage). Two separate concepts can be measured - registered marital status and social marital status. They have different personal characteristics and are independent variables with separate classifications. Within ABS causes of death statistics marital status relates only to registered marital status which refers to formally registered marriages or divorces for which the partners hold a certificate. Four categories of marital status are identified: never married, married, widowed and divorced.

For further information about Marital Status refer to 1286.0 - Family, Household and Income Unit Variables, 2005

Indigenous Status

The term Indigenous is used to refer to Australian Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. The 'Commonwealth working definition' of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is "a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives" (DAA 1981). In ABS statistical collections, it is not feasible to collect information on the community acceptance part of this definition, and therefore questions on Indigenous Status relate to descent and self-identification only. In practice, people are asked if they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. Those who identify themselves as of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin are classified as Indigenous persons.

The classification for Indigenous Status is detailed below:


      • Aboriginal but not Torres Strait Islander Origin
      • Torres Strait Islander Origin but not Aboriginal
      • Both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Origin
      • Neither Aboriginal nor Torres Strait Islander Origin
Not Stated

For further information about Indigenous Status refer to 1289.0 - Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity, 1999


The occupation classification used in ABS causes of death statistics is the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) First Edition 2006. Causes of death data using an occupation variable is not available from the 2003 reference year. The ABS considers the quality of the data able to be produced for this variable to be insufficient for reasonable analysis. Further discussion on this issue can be found in Chapter XXX Data Quality Issues (insert link)

ANZSCO is a skill-based classification of occupations which covers all jobs in the Australian workforce. Occupation information collected in surveys and the Census provides a description of a person's job and refers to the kind of work undertaken by an employed person irrespective of the industry in which that job is held. Jobs and occupations are fundamental concepts to the classification. A job is a set of tasks designed to be performed by one individual. An occupation is a set of jobs with similar sets of tasks. Occupations are classified according to two criteria - skill level and skill specialisation.

For further information on ANZSCO First Edition, refer to ANZSCO: 1220.0 - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation, First Edition


There are two geographic classifications used by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of causes of death statistics: the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC); and the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). The ASGC divides Australia into a number of geographical hierarchies to suit different statistical purposes. The SACC is a classification of countries based on the concept of geographic proximity. Both classifications are used in the collection and dissemination of ABS death and causes of death statistics. They are discussed further below.

Australian Standard Geographical (ASGC)

The ASGC is a hierarchical classification system consisting of six interrelated classification structures. The ASGC provides a common framework of statistical geography and thereby enables the production of statistics which are comparable and can be spatially integrated. These provide Causes of death statistics with a ‘where’ dimension.

In practice, statistical units such as households and businesses are first classified or assigned to a geographical area in one of the seven ASGC structures; such as census collection districts (CD), states (S/D), statistical local areas (SLA) and mesh blocks (MB). In this structure, CDs aggregate to form SLAs, and this aggregation principle continues up the remaining hierarchical levels. At each hierarchical level, the component spatial units (e.g. SLAs) collectively cover all of Australia without gaps or overlaps. Data collected from these statistical units are then compiled into ASGC-defined geographic aggregations which, subject to confidentiality restrictions, are then available for publication.

Mesh Blocks are a new micro level of statistical geography for Australia. They will in future replace Census Collection Districts (CDs) as the smallest unit of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). From the 2007 reference year, Deaths data will be o SLAs and Mesh Blocks for the deceased usual residence. The focus on resolving manual queries will be limited to accurately coding the SLA of the deceased usual residence.

For further information about the ASGC refer to. 1216.0 - Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), Jul 2007

For further information about Mesh Blocks refer to 1209.0.55.001 - Information Paper: Draft Mesh Blocks, Australia (Reissue), 2005

Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC)

The SACC groups neighbouring countries into progressively broader geographic areas on the basis of their similarity in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics. The SACC is the revised edition of the Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS). The SACC also incorporates previous revisions to the ASCCSS. SACC is a hierarchical classification, meaning that individual 4-digit country codes can be logically grouped together using the first 2 digits of the code, or even more broadly using the first digit only. Supplementary codes have been included in the classification for state level coding in Australia, and non-country entries.

Birthplaces within Australia are coded to the state/territory level where possible. The supplementary codes contain the relevant state and territory 4-digit codes.

For further information about the SACC refer to 1269.0 - Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (Revision 2.03)


International Classification of Diseases (ICD)

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of causes of death statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases and causes of disease or injury as recorded on many types of medical records as well as death records The ICD has been revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field. Currently ICD 10th revision is used for Australian causes of death statistics.

ICD-10 is a variable-axis classification meaning the epidemiological data and statistical data is grouped as follows:

    epidemic diseases
    constitutional or general diseases
    local diseases arranged by site
    developmental diseases injuries

For further information about the ICD refer to WHO | International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

An online version of the ICD 10th Revision can be found by following this link ICD-10