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Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary

Detailed information about Census variables, concepts and terms.

Reference period


The 2021 Census dictionary contains detailed information about Census variables and concepts. The dictionary helps data users better understand and interpret Census data.

The main sections of the dictionary include:

  • What’s new for 2021 - summary of changes to classifications, Census variables and Census questions since 2016. Lists new variables for 2021.
  • Variables index - alphabetical list of all variables. Variables can be selected to see more details.
  • Variables by topic - helps users find variables based on topic group. Variables can be selected to see more details.
  • Glossary - terms and definitions to assist data users gain a broader understanding of the Census and Census topics.

About Census variables

Information collected through the Census questions become data, which is output through variables. The Census dictionary details each variable and contains information on:

  • Variable definition
  • Scope (the population that the variable is applicable to)
  • Categories
  • How the variable is created
  • Questions on the Census form related to the variable
  • History and changes
  • Data use considerations
  • Non-response rate
  • Related variables and glossary terms
  • Other ABS sources

Release plans

Information on non-response rates and data use considerations that focus on data quality will be added iteratively to the variable pages with the first and second release of data in June and October 2022 (see Data release timeline).

Census data will be available through a suite of standard products, or as data customised for individual user requirements. This reference material should be used in conjunction with Census data.