2008.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content, Australia, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/08/2015   
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This topic records the total income from all sources, within ranges, for people aged 15 years and over.

It is used to produce information on family and household income as well as on individual income.

The income ranges used in the question have been reviewed and updated for the 2016 Census.


A question on income was first asked in the 1933 Census in an attempt to measure the effects of the Depression. It was reintroduced in 1976 and included in all subsequent Censuses. Each person aged 15 years or older is asked to indicate the range within which their gross income from all sources lies. Statistics on personal, family and household income are produced from this question.

Since 1996, categories for nil and negative income have been provided to overcome an apparent cause of non-response. To ensure that the Nil income category did not lead to biased results, the categories were ordered with the highest income categories listed first. In 2006, ranges were adjusted in line with rises in income since the 2001 Census, the overall number of categories was reduced and an additional range for higher incomes was added. Ranges were reviewed and updated for the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. The number of categories has also been increased for the 2016 Census.


In the Census, there is a tendency for incomes to be slightly understated. However, the income distribution is largely consistent with that obtained from the ABS income and expenditure surveys.

Testing of the topic has shown that there is some tendency for those not in the labour force to leave this question unanswered, as they consider income only applies to payments received as a result of employment. Similarly, pensioners and self-funded retirees sometimes state that they receive no income as they do not regard their pension as income.

Family and household income are derived from data on individual incomes of members of families and households. Only the incomes of people present on Census Night are included, due to the collection and processing difficulties involved in accounting for people temporarily absent.


The following question is from the paper 2016 Census Household Form.

Image: question 33 from the paper 2016 Census Household Form.