Latest release

Registered marital status (MSTP)

Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period
2021

Definition

This variable records a person’s formal registered marital status. If registered marital status is not stated, it is imputed.

Scope

Persons aged 15 years and over

Categories

CodeCategory

1

Never married

2

Widowed

3

Divorced

4

Separated

5

Married

@

Not applicable

Number of categories: 6

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • Persons aged under 15 years

Question(s) from the Census form

What is the person’s current marital status?

    What is Person 1's current marital status?
    What is Person 1's current marital status?

    ‘Married’ refers to registered marriages.

    More information

    Never married

    Widowed

    Divorced

    Separated but not divorced

    Married

      More information

      Additional information relating to the question on: What is Person 1's current marital status?

      More information

      What is Person 1's current marital status?

      ‘Married’ refers to registered marriages.

      More information

      If the person is divorced or widowed and has remarried, select ‘Married’.

      If the person is divorced and has not remarried, select ‘Divorced’, even if the person lives in a de facto relationship.

      If the person is in a de facto relationship and has not been in a registered marriage, select ‘Never married’.

      How this variable is created

      This variable captures the response from the marital status question on the Census form.

      If a person provides more than one response, the first response that appears on the form will be used. If there is no response to the question, a response is imputed (or derived to Not applicable when the age is less than 15 years). Imputation is a statistical process for predicting values where no response was provided to a question and a response could not be derived. The variable Imputation flag for registered marital status (IFMSTP) indicates if a person’s Registered marital status was imputed in the Census.

      The majority of imputed Registered marital status is attributed to people in occupied dwellings on Census night that did not return a form. A smaller proportion are due to people who returned a partially completed form without responding to the Marital status question.

      History and changes

      A question on Marital status has been asked in every Census since 1911.

      In December 2017, amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 came into effect enabling marriage equality for all couples. The amendments removed references to sex or gender and redefined marriage as 'the union of two people to the exclusion of all others'. Registered marriages reported in Census data releases will include same-sex couples and opposite sex couples only.

      In 2021, no changes have been made to the question on the form. However, changes were made to the way responses were processed as all couples can now be in registered marriages.

      Data use considerations

      The Registered marital status variable provides data about a person's current registered marital status, regardless of their reported relationship to another person in their household. During the time of the Census the following instructions were available on the Census website to help people answer the registered marital status question.

      • If the person is a child and therefore not married, select ‘Never married’.
      • If the person is divorced or widowed and has remarried, select ‘Married’.
      • If the person is divorced and has not remarried, select ‘Divorced’, even if the person lives in a de facto relationship.
      • If the person is in a de facto relationship and has not been in a registered marriage, select ‘Never married’.
      • If the person is in a traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander marriage, select ‘Married’.

      Information on de facto relationships is derived from responses to the Relationship in household question and output in the Social marital status (MDCP) variable.

      Due to the amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 in 2017, all couples are able to identify as being in registered marriages. While the categories for the variable have not changed, more people may be applicable in category 5 – Married.

      Related variables and glossary terms

      Other ABS sources