1285.0.55.001 - Number of Children Ever Born Standard, July 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/07/2012  First Issue
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Contents >> Measurement Issues and Related Classifications



28. The most important measurement issue for the variable Number of Children Ever Born is ensuring that respondents understand that it is a measure of live births rather than all births. Therefore the question asked must always be stated in such a way that respondents are in no doubt as to what the question is asking.

29. Care should be exercised in the use of administratively produced data as different questions are asked in the various states and territories Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages. For Australia as a whole, information on number of children born is only available for births which took place in the current relationship, rather than including those from previous relationships. The ABS has consulted with the various registries on several occasions to standardise the way the information is recorded and stored, most recently in 2006. Since 1996, Western Australia has been joined by Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania in capturing information about births in previous relationships. However, in 2004, Queensland ceased collecting and recording this item on the Birth Registration Statement.

30. In the 1992 Family Survey, there were difficulties associated with the way information on Number of Children Ever Born was collected. To avoid duplication, data on children in the household were collected via the household form, and women were then asked to identify any further children they had had. This led to complications in processing the information that had been collected. It also led to less than totally accurate information being recorded as children in the household may have been adopted or fostered, rather than being biological offspring. In the Family Survey the question was not asked of women 15-17 years of age who were never married, or not living in a defacto relationship, nor was the question asked of women 60 years of age and over. Also, for sensitivity reasons, the question was not asked of all females within scope of the current standard.

31. The Number of Children Ever Born topic was included in the 2006-07 Family Characteristics and Transitions Survey which was collected in the Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Monthly Population Survey. The questions were included as part of a new Family Transitions and History topic. Both male and female respondents aged 18 years and over were asked whether or not the respondent had natural children, number of natural children ever born, and age at birth of first child. For further information see the ABS publication, Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, 2006-07 (ABS cat. no. 4442.0). The topic was not included in the 2009-10 Family Characteristics Survey.

32. Asking questions about the number of children ever born may be a sensitive issue which could result in mis-reporting as women may choose to include their still born children or may not wish to report children born outside of their present relationship.


33. There are no related classifications.

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