Country of birth of parents (BPPP)

Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable indicates if a person's father and/or mother was born in Australia or overseas. It combines responses for Country of birth of mother (BPFP) and Country of birth of father (BPMP) to identify the country of birth of a person’s parents (Country of birth of parents, BPPP).

The data gained from this variable, together with Country of birth of person (BPLP), allows the study of first-generation and second-generation Australians.


All persons


1Both parents born overseas
2Father only born overseas
3Mother only born overseas
4Both parents born in Australia
&Not stated - birthplace for either or both parents not stated
VOverseas visitor

Number of categories: 6

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

In which country was the person’s father born?

In which country was the person’s mother born?

How this variable is created

This variable is derived from responses for BPFP and BPMP. Responses are captured automatically from mark boxes and text responses on the form.

If a person has a 'Not stated' response for their father and/or mother’s country of birth, then BPPP is coded to 'Not stated'.

History and changes

The two questions used to derive this variable were first asked in the 1921 Census, but not asked again until 1971. Since then, they have been asked in every Census.

Until 2001, the question asked people to write in their parents’ birthplaces. In the 2001 Census a question was also asked on ancestry. As a result, for the 2001-2011 Censuses the country of birth of parents response categories were changed to ask whether a person’s parents were born in Australia or overseas rather than collect detail on the parents’ overseas birthplaces.

For 2016 the name of the variable changed from 'Birthplace of parents' to 'Country of birth of parents'. After consultation with key data users, the question responses changed to again ask the specific birthplace of parents where it is not Australia.

No changes have been made for 2021.

Data use considerations

The questions used to derive BPPP (Country of birth of mother and Country of birth of father) changed in 2016. In 2011 both items only asked if a person's mother and father were born in Australia or overseas, whereas since 2016 the specific country of birth is asked for both parents.

This variable does not have a non-response rate as it is created during Census processing by using responses from more than one question on the Census form. 

Related variables and glossary terms

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