2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/04/2018   
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The ABS is consulting to seek views on the information to be collected in the next Census and this topic brief provides detail about what has been previously included on population.

The opportunity to participate in the consultation will be available from 3 April to 30 June 2018 via consult.abs.gov.au


Population topics on the Census included:

  • name
  • sex
  • date of birth or age
  • children ever born.


Questions about the name, age and sex of the population have been included since the first national Census in 1911. These questions are essential in assisting the ABS to meet its legislative requirement for estimating the size, age and sex profile of the population across Australia. Almost all decisions made by governments, businesses and local community groups depend on knowing the sex and age of the population located in each part of Australia.

Alongside this information, the ABS requests names to help people answer the right question for each person in the household, and to help us process the form correctly.

Females are also asked a question about the number of children ever born in order to better understand fertility.

For more information on the collection and use of data on sex, and the difference between the concepts sex and gender, read the Sex and gender topic brief.

  • What is the name of each person including visitors who spent the night of Tuesday, 9 August 2016 in this dwelling?
  • Is this person male or female?
  • What is the person's date of birth or age?
  • For each female, how many babies has she ever given birth to?


Questions about the population provide data in a range of formats including:
For more information view 2901.0 - Census Dictionary

Source: 2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016

Infographic showing the number of people counted in the 2016 Census, 50.7% were female and 49.3% male.
Infographic showing the number of people counted in the 2016 Census, 50.7% were female and 49.3% male.

Infographic showing the number people counted in the 1966, 1991, 2006, 2011 and 2016 Censuses
Infographic showing the number people counted in the 1966, 1991, 2006, 2011 and 2016 Censuses


A number of standards are used by the ABS to classify statistics relating to population. These standards will be reviewed before the next Census.
1200.0.55.012 - Standard for Sex and Gender Variables, 2016
1200.0.55.006 - Age Standard, 2014, Version 1.7
1285.0.55.001 - Number of Children Ever Born Standard, July 2012


The ABS has undertaken initial discussions and reviewed feedback from the 2016 Census in preparation for this consultation.

Feedback from stakeholders has indicated that population is still a relevant and important topic. Questions pertaining to name, age and sex will continue to be asked in the 2021 Census.

The collection of names and addresses in the Census is a critical part of ensuring the quality and value of the Census.

Names are collected in the Census for a number of reasons, including to:
  • assist householders completing the form to report the relevant information for each person;
  • ensure the Census covers the entire population and data is of high quality; and
  • enhance the value of Census data, by combining non-identifiable data with other national datasets to better inform government decisions in important areas such as health, education, infrastructure and the economy.

The ABS removes names and addresses from other personal and household information after data collection and processing.

One point of interest has been around the children ever born question. From 1986 to 2006 the children ever born question was asked on a 10 year cycle (every second Census), however since the 2006 Census it has been included each Census. Early discussions with stakeholders have raised the potential of returning to a 10 yearly cycle after the 2021 Census. This change would place Australia on the same cycle as countries who conduct their Census every ten years enabling international comparison of fertility.

The ABS has previously received feedback regarding the sensitivities around this question. As a result in 2016, the statement noting that only live births should be included in this response was removed.


The ABS collects data on population through a number of different collections. Listed below is a selection of ABS publications. For the comprehensive list of ABS products, please visit the ABS website.

3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2017
This product contains quarterly estimates of total resident population for states, territories and Australia. It includes estimates of the population by sex in five-year age groups; numbers (and some rates) of births, deaths, infant deaths, interstate and overseas movements; quarterly and/or annual time series spreadsheets; projected resident population for states, territories and Australia; and projected number of households for capital cities, states, territories and Australia.

3218.0 - Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2016
This product released annually contains estimates of the resident population for areas of Australia. Estimates are provided for Statistical Areas Level 2 to 4; Greater Capital City Statistical Areas; Local Government Areas; Commonwealth and State Electoral Divisions; and states and territories of Australia according to the latest edition of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

3235.0 - Population by Age and Sex, by Regions of Australia, 2016
This annually released product contains the latest available estimates by age and sex of the resident populations of areas of Australia as at 30 June. These estimates are provided for Statistical Areas Level 2 to 4 (SA2s - SA4s); Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs); and states and territories of Australia according to the current edition of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

3301.0 - Births, Australia, 2016
This annual publication provides data on the number of births registered during the calendar year. Births data is presented by sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and includes Total Fertility Rates and median age of mother and father (where known).

3310.0 - Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2016
Marriage and divorce statistics provide valuable information annually for the analysis of family formation and structure in Australia. Marriages data is presented by age; previous marital status; country of birth and relative country of birth of both males and females; type of celebrant; and whether couples live together prior to marriage. Divorces data is presented by age; duration of marriage at final separation and at date made absolute; country of birth; and number of children.

3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2015-16
This publication includes information on international migration into and out of Australia, internal migration within Australia and information on overseas-born residents of Australia. It is updated every year.

4159.0 - General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2014
The General Social Survey (GSS) is conducted every four years and collects a range of demographic information. The GSS aims to provide an understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of relative advantage and disadvantage across the population, and to facilitate reporting on and monitoring of people's opportunities to participate fully in society. Themes include how Australia has progressed on aspects of social capital such as participation, support, feelings of safety and trust.

What are your population data needs? Share your views with us on the most useful information we should collect in the 2021 Census. Make your submission to our review of 2021 Census topics at the ABS Consultation Hub.

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