8146.0 - Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/12/2008   
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1 This release presents results from household use of information technology (HUIT) data collected from the Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) for 2007-08 and the Time Use Survey (TUS) for 2006 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).


2 The MPHS, conducted each year throughout Australia from July to June as a supplement to the Monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS), is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics. These include both labour topics and other social and economic topics. The topics collected in 2007-08 were:

  • Education, personal household income (core)
  • Household use of information technology
  • Environmental views and behaviour
  • Personal fraud (collected July to December only)

3 Data for other MPHS topics collected in 2007-08 will be released in separate publications.

4 Data on household use of information technology has been previously collected by the ABS in the Population Survey Monitor (1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000), the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology (2001), the General Social Survey (2002), the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (2002), the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC - 2003), the Childrens Participation in Culture and Leisure Survey (2003 and 2006), and the MPHS (2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07). The MPHS will be the vehicle for collection of HUIT data for the 2008-09 reference period and thereafter will be collected biennially in the MPHS.

5 The publication Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS), which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the monthly LFS and supplementary surveys.


6 The 2006 TUS, which was enumerated over four 13-day periods in 2006 using both computer assisted personal interview and respondent diary complettion, collected information from people aged 15 years and over across all States and Territories in Australia. The TUS collected information about time use and its effects on other areas of interest, such as:
  • family dynamics;
  • caring for people with disabilities and older people;
  • caring for children;
  • education activities;
  • leisure activities;
  • fitness and health activities;
  • radio and television listening/watching;
  • use of other technology;
  • transport, public and private;
  • outsourcing of domestic tasks;
  • patterns of interaction with others.



7 The MPHS is conducted as a supplement to the monthly LFS. One third of the dwellings in the outgoing rotation group (one eighth of the sample is rotated out each month) are selected for the MPHS. In these dwellings, after LFS has been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a person (usual resident) aged 15 or over is selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. Data are collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses are recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, generally during a telephone interview.

8 The sample was accumulated over a twelve month period (July 2007 to June 2008).


9 Information was obtained in the Time Use Survey partly by interview and partly by self-completion diary. Trained ABS interviewers collected information, about the household and other members of the household, from an adult member of the selected household. The interviewer also instructed the interviewee on how resident adult household members (aged 15 years and over) were to record their activities (including their nature, timing and duration), in the diaries supplied, over two specified days. Instructions and two completed sample pages were also provided at the beginning of the diaries to guide respondents on the type of information and level of detail required. The layout of the diary was unchanged from the 1997 TUS.

10 The diary was divided into two separate days, with fixed intervals of five minutes covering 24 hours from 12 am. Five columns with question headings organised responses into primary and secondary activities, for whom the activity was done, who else was there and where the activity took place. The diary included several questions at the start and end of each diary day relating to the individual. Diaries were collected by the interviewer on a return visit or mailed back to the ABS in a Reply Paid envelope.

11 The TUS was enumerated over four 13-day periods in 2006, chosen to contain a representative proportion of public holidays and school holidays:
  • 20th February - 4th March 2006;
  • 24th April - 6th May 2006;
  • 26th June - 8th July 2006; and
  • 23rd October - 4th November 2006.



12 Due to the difference in the scope of previous surveys, household use of information technology (HUIT) data from the 2005-06 MPHS onwards (the scope of which is persons aged 15 years and over) are not directly comparable with data from previous years, which was limited to persons aged 18 years and over.

13 HUIT data for 2003 were obtained from the SDAC, where person level data only relates to those with a disability aged 15 years or over. Data are not comparable with results from MPHS which covers all persons 15 years or over. However, SDAC and MPHS data are comparable at the household level.

14 The 2002 HUIT data were obtained from the GSS using a face-to-face randomly selected person methodology. MPHS questions were asked using a telephone interview. The ABS has taken reasonable steps during the survey development process to ensure that this change in collection methodology does not affect the quality of the data, however, a small impact on responses for the more complex questions cannot be ruled out.


15 The 2006 Time Use Survey was designed to be as comparable as possible with the 1997 survey. However, user consultation identified some additional data items, and modifications to data items that had been used in 1997, to improve the usefulness of the survey results. Notwithstanding these improvements to quality and usefulness for 2006, a high level of comparability with 1997 survey results has been achieved.

16 The activity classification used for the 1997 survey was reviewed with users and a number of minor changes were made, which have a negligible impact on comparability between 1997 and 2006 results.

17 Changes to diary episode data items included collecting additional detail in 2006 (but do not affect comparability at the higher levels that remain consistent between 1997 and 2006) - additional communication/technology categories to encompass changes in technology and computer usage since 1997 and to allow for all technology use to be captured for primary activities instead of just the technology used for communication.

18 Changes to coding rules were implemented so that communication codes were used more consistently in 2006 compared to 1997, for example, in 2006 no communication/technology codes were used for employment activities as this information was generally not provided in respondents' diaries.



19 The scope of the LFS is restricted to people aged 15 years and over and excludes the following persons:
  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated populations
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants).

20 For the MPHS in 2007-08 the following people are also excluded:
  • people living in private dwellings in very remote parts of Australia
  • people living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities), and inmates of prisons.

21 The 2007-08 MPHS was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded people living in very remote parts of Australia. The exclusion of these people is expected to have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except in the Northern Territory where such people account for around 23% of the population.

22 In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


23 The scope of the estimates from this survey is all usual residents in private dwellings throughout Australia, excluding very remote dwellings. The survey collected information by personal interview from usual residents of private dwellings in urban and rural areas of Australia, covering about 98 per cent of the people living in Australia. Private dwellings are houses, flats, home units, caravans, garages, tents and other structures that are used as places of residence at the time of interview. Long-stay caravan parks are also included. These are distinct from non-private dwellings which include hotels, boarding schools, boarding houses and institutions. Residents of non-private dwellings are excluded.

24 The survey excludes:
  • households which contain members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia;
  • households which contain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments;
  • persons living in very remote parts of Australia; and
  • households in collection districts defined as very remote or Indigenous Communities.



25 The initial sample for the 2007-08 MPHS consisted of approximately 18,480 private dwelling households. Of the 15,800 private dwelling households that remained in the survey after sample loss (for example, households selected in the survey which had no residents in scope for the LFS, vacant or derelict dwellings and dwellings under construction), approximately 14,000 or 89% fully responded to the MPHS.

26 Due to differences in the scope and sample size of the MPHS and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some small variations between labour force estimates from this survey and those from the LFS. For further information on the sample size of the LFS, refer to the ABS information paper Labour Force Survey Sample Redesign, Nov 2007 (Second Edition) (Cat. no. 6269.0).


27 The 2006 Time Use Survey results were compiled from a sample of about 3,900 households across Australia, sufficient to provide estimates for those characteristics which are relatively common and for sub populations which are relatively large and spread fairly evenly geographically. Because time use activity on weekend days is quite different to time use on weekdays, for 2006, the proportion of total diary days allocated to weekend days was increased compared with earlier time use surveys to reduce sample error in many total time use estimates by activity, and to enable better time use estimates to compare time use for both Saturday and Sunday individually and with the weekdays.

28 The survey was conducted using a stratified multistage area sample of private dwellings (houses, flats etc.) in both urban and rural areas in all States and Territories. The sample was selected to ensure that each dwelling within each of the geographic areas covered by the survey had an equal probability of selection. Different states and regions were allocated sample roughly in proportion to their population so that accurate national estimates could be obtained. All persons usually resident within the selected dwellings were included in the survey. A detailed description of the sample design can be found in the Time Use Survey: User Guide, 2006 (Cat. no. 4150.0).


29 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total in scope population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each sample unit, which, for the MPHS and the TUS can be either a person or a household. The weight is a value which indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit. The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks'. Weights are calibrated against population benchmarks to ensure that the survey estimates conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population rather than the distribution within the sample itself.

30 The estimation process for these surveys ensures that estimates of persons calibrate exactly to independently produced population totals at broad levels. The known population totals, commonly referred to as 'benchmarks', are produced according to the scope of the survey. The same is true for estimates of households produced in this survey. However, in these cases the household benchmarks are actually estimates themselves and not strictly known population totals.

31 Survey estimates are benchmarked to persons within the scope of the survey - for example, the MPHS was benchmarked to the estimated civilian population aged 15 years and over living in private dwellings in each state and territory excluding persons out of scope. Survey estimates of counts of persons or households are obtained by summing the weights of persons or households with the characteristics of interest.

32 Certain data items in the MPHS such as estimates of income had significant non-response for 2007-08. The ABS has not applied any imputation methodology for estimation of values for non-responses.

33 Detailed information on the weighting, estimation and benchmarking methodology for the TUS can be found in paragraphs 23 to 30 of the TUS Explanatory Notes.


34 Some households reported negative income in the survey. This is possible if they incur losses in their unincorporated businesses or have negative returns from their investments. Studies of income and expenditure from the 1998-99 Household Expenditure Survey (HES) have shown that such households in the bottom income decile and with negative gross incomes tend to have expenditure levels that are comparable to those of households with higher income levels (and slightly above the average expenditures recorded for the fifth decile), indicating that these households have access to economic resources, such as wealth, or that the instance of low or negative income is temporary, perhaps reflecting business or investment start up.


35 Equivalence scales are used to adjust the actual incomes of households in a way that enables the analysis of the relative wellbeing of people living in households of different size and composition. For example, it would be expected that a household comprising two people would normally need more income than a lone person household, if all the people in the two households are to enjoy the same material standards of living. Adopting a per capita analysis would address one aspect of household size difference, but would address neither compositional difference (i.e. the number of adults compared with the number of children) nor the economies derived from living together.

36 When household income is adjusted according to an equivalence scale, the equivalised income can be viewed as an indicator of the economic resources available to a standardised household. For a lone person household, it is equal to income received. For a household comprising more than one person, equivalised income is an indicator of the household income that would be required by a lone person household in order to enjoy the same level of economic wellbeing as the household in question.

37 The equivalence scale used in this publication was developed for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and is referred to as the "modified OECD" equivalence scale. It is widely accepted among Australian analysts of income distribution.

38 The scale allocates 1.0 point for the first adult (aged 15 years or older) in a household; 0.5 for each additional adult; and 0.3 for each child. Equivalised household income is derived by dividing total household income by the sum of the equivalence points allocated to household members. For example, if a household received combined gross income of $2,100 per week and comprised two adults and two children (combined household equivalence points of 2.1), the equivalised gross household income for each household member would be calculated as $1,000 per week.

39 For more information on the use of equivalence scales, see Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 6523.0).


40 Remoteness Areas (RA) are the spatial units that make up the ASGC Remoteness Classification. There are six classes of Remoteness Area in the Remotenss Structure; Major Cities of Australia, Inner Regional Australia, Outer Regional Australia, Remote Australia, Very Remote Australia and Migratory. Remoteness Areas are aggregations of Collection Districts (CD) which share common characteristics of remoteness.

41 The purpose of the RA structure is to classify Collection Districts (CD) which share common characteristics of remoteness into broad geographical regions called RAs. The remoteness structure includes all CDs thereby covering the whole of geographic Australia. Where relevant, statistics in this publication have been produced using the ASGC Remoteness Classification.

42 Remoteness is calculated using the road distance to the nearest Urban Centre in each of five classes based on population size.The glossary accompanying this publication provides definitions of RAs used. For further information see Statistical Geography: Volume 1 - Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0).

43 The key element in producing the structure is the preparation of the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+) grid. ARIA+ scores are first calculated for each Urban Centre and are then interpolated to create a 1 km grid covering the whole of Australia. Each grid square carries a score of remoteness from an index of scores ranging from 0 (zero) through to 15. The data custodian of the grid remains the National Key Centre for Social Applications of Geographic Information System (GISCA), Adelaide University, South Australia. ABS Remoteness Areas are created by averaging the ARIA+ scores within Census Collection Districts (CDs), then aggregating the CDs up into the 6 ABS Remoteness Area categories based on the averaged ARIA+ score.

44 RA categories are defined in the ASGC Remoteness Classification as follows:
  • Major Cities of Australia: CDs with an average Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) index value of 0 to 0.2
  • Inner Regional Australia: CDs with an average ARIA index value greater than 0.2 and less than or equal to 2.4
  • Outer Regional Australia: CDs with an average ARIA index value greater than 2.4 and less than or equal to 5.92
  • Remote Australia: CDs with an average ARIA index value greater than 5.92 and less than or equal to 10.53
  • Very Remote Australia: CDs with an average ARIA index value greater than 10.53


45 The estimates provided in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling error.

Sampling error

46 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if all persons in scope of the survey had been included. For more information refer to the technical note.

Non-sampling error

47 Non-sampling error may occur in any collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sample error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording of answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data.


48 Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURF) release confidentialised microdata from surveys, thereby facilitating interrogation and analysis of data.

49 For all MPHS topics covered in the 2007-08 survey, two expanded CURFs will be released in 2009. The expanded CURF for MPHS 2006-07 topics is available through the ABS' Remote Access Data Laboratory. For more information on expanded CURFs refer to ABS information paper Multi-Purpose Household Survey 2006-07, Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (Cat. no. 4100.0). The first CURF includes unit record data collected from the core, HUIT and Environmental views and behaviour topics, while the second CURF will include unit record data for the Personal Fraud and core topics only.

50 A CURF is also available for the 2006 TUS, through the ABS' RADL. For more information about the TUS 2006 CURF, refer to the ABS information papers:


51 Data for other countries presented in Table 9 have been provided courtesy of the OECD and were originally sourced from individual country reports to the OECD. The metadata for OECD Countries' ICT Collections site available at <www.oecd.org/sti/ictmetadata> provides detailed information on the reference period and survey scope for each country.

52 There are important differences in definitions, scope, coverage and reference periods for the international comparison data included for selected indicators in the above tables, and thus the figures should be used with caution. The ABS defines broadband as an 'always on' Internet connection with an access speed equal to or greater than 256 kbps. Most other OECD countries define broadband in terms of technology (e.g. ADSL, cable etc) rather than speed.


53 The ABS will conduct the MPHS again during the 2008-09 financial year. The topics included in the 2008-09 MPHS are:
  • Education, personal and household income (core)
  • Household use of information technology
  • Barriers and incentives to labour force participation
  • Retirement and retirement intentions
  • Crime and Safety


54 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


55 Other ABS publications on the production and use of information and communication technologies and telecommunication goods and services in Australia are:
56 The ABS issues a daily release advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.


57 For further information about HUIT and related statistics, including access to more detailed 2007-08 HUIT data, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Siddhartha De on Canberra (02) 6252 6519. Note that detailed data can be subject to high RSEs.

58 For further information the TUS, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Elisabeth Davis on Canberra (02) 6252 7880.