1287.0 - Standards for Income Variables, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/03/2010   
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Contents >> Standard variable - Main source of income >> Classification and coding

13. 'Main source of income' is classified to the Standard classification of sources of income detailed in the 'Classification' section of the 'Total income' standard.


14. As outlined in the 'Collection methods' section, 'Main source of income' may be derived where income data is collected on a source by source basis if complete data are available. Where complete data are not reported for each source, for instance where the respondent did not know the amount, respondents may be asked to report their main source of income in a separate question. This section outlines the procedures for the classification and coding of the variable 'Main source of income' in both situations.

Main source of income is self-reported

15. In the self-reported question for main source of income, the input categories are the response categories (see below).

    1. Wages or salary (including from own incorporated business)
    2. Own unincorporated business or share in a partnership
    3. Government pension or allowance
    4. Rental investment property
    5. Superannuation, an annuity or private pension
    6. Dividends from shares and/or interest
    7. Other
    8. Nil or negative
Main source of income is derived

16. Main source of income can be derived where complete income data is available on a source by source basis. For those reporting just one source, that is their main source. Main source of income can only be derived for higher level units, such as households, where detailed and complete information on all sources of income are available for each person within that statistical unit.

17. Where detailed information for all income sources is available, main source of income can be output at the broad, narrow or detailed level of the classification. However, application of the variable at different levels of the classification can affect the identification of the main source of income.

For example, a person might receive $200 per week from a part time job, $180 per week from their superannuation fund, $120 per week from the rental of their granny flat and $15 per week from the Age Pension. At the broadest level of the classification, the 'Main source of income' would be Other income ($300, i.e. $120 rent plus $180 super) followed by Employee income ($200) and Government pensions and allowances ($15). At a more detailed level of the classification, the 'Main source of income' would be Employee income ($200), followed by Superannuation/annuities ($180), followed by Property income from rent ($120) followed by Government pensions and allowances ($15).

Equal sources

18. Where a unit receives equal amounts from two or more sources of income, the unit's characteristics are not expected to resemble those of units whose 'Main source of income' is either of the equal sources.

19. In this situation it is considered most appropriate to code the unit to the subpopulation where its inclusion will impact least on estimates. In the case of such 'ties', therefore, the unit is coded to the source representing the greatest proportion of population surveyed. This prevents the unit's other characteristics from exercising a large impact on the characteristics of smaller populations. In practice, the unit is coded to the category with the lower code number, where it almost always has least impact.

For example, in a population where 60% of units surveyed have Employee income and 20% have Other income as their main source, a unit with equal receipts from wages (Employee income, code 1000) and dividends (Other income, code 9000) would be coded to Employee income, the code representing the main source of the largest proportion of units in the sample.

Zero and negative sources

20. Units whose Total income sums to zero or a negative value are coded as 'Not applicable' for 'Main source of income'.

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