Microdata: Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics, Australia

Provides data on death registrations from 2011 - 2012 which has been augmented with data from the 2011 census

Introduction

This publication provides information about data included in the Microdata: Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics, Australia, 2011-12 product. This detailed microdata product provides data from the Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project. This project linked death registrations of persons who were registered as deceased between 10 August 2011 and 27 September 2012 inclusive, with records from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. For further details see Research Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project - A Linked Dataset for Analysis (cat. no. 1351.0.55.058).

This level of detail is released with the approval of the Australian Statistician.

Acknowledgements

Information pertaining to death registrations in the linked dataset draws extensively on information provided freely by the state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and the Victorian Department of Justice, who manage the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of vitals statistics published by the ABS would not be possible.

The ABS also acknowledges the provision of data from all Australians, as part of the 2011 Census of Population and Housing.

Available products

A data item list and a test file is available from the Downloads tab in this publication. The data item list provides a comprehensive list of all Census and mortality-related data items available in this product. A test file is included to assist users in understanding the structure of the data and to test code. This test file does not contain real data and cannot be used for analysis. The actual microdata product is available through the ABS DataLab, which enables in-depth analysis using a range of statistical software packages, including SAS, Stata and SPSS. Further information about the ABS DataLab and other general information to assist users in understanding and accessing microdata are available from the Microdata Entry Page.

Data items

Data item list

The complete data item list for the Microdata: Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics product is available in the Data downloads section of this release. This data item list shows the data items available and what each data item value indicates in the detailed microdata product. Contained within the data item list are cell comments which provide further context to the variable, including the origin of the data item and the classification used for derivation of the variable. It is recommended that the cell comments are referred to when using the detailed microdata product.

The data item list contains groupings of variables by category (e.g. Person data items, Mortality - Causes of Death) and by alphabetical order.

For a glossary of terms relating to the mortality and census data collections see the Glossary of Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0) and the Glossary of the Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).

Test file

The test file does not contain real data and cannot be used for analysis.

A test file has been created for the microdata product. The purpose of the test file is to allow researchers/analysts to become familiar with the data structure to prepare code/programs prior to applying for, or commencing, an ABS DataLab session. This aims to maximise the value of sessions by saving users' time and resources once they enter the ABS DataLab environment.

The test file mimics the structure of the Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics, Australia 2011-2012 microdata - it has the same items and allowed values, however, all data in the test file is false, created through a randomisation process. Proportions of values within data items in the test file will be similar to those in the real data; however relationships between data items are not (intentionally) maintained. It is extremely unlikely that a record in the test file would match with a genuine record in the real data.

The test file is available as a free download from the Data downloads section. It can also be made available in other file formats on request. For further information, users should email microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone (02) 6252 7714.

Conditions of use

ABS responsibilities

The Census and Statistics ACT 1905 includes a legislative guarantee to respondents that their confidentiality will be protected. This is fundamental to the trust that the Australian public has in the ABS and that trust is, in turn, fundamental to maintaining the quality of ABS information. Without that trust, respondents may be less forthcoming or truthful in answering ABS questionnaires. For more information, see 'Avoiding inadvertent disclosure' and 'Microdata' on the web page How the ABS keeps your information confidential. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS handles any personal information that you provide to us.

User responsibilities

Use of ABS microdata requires individual users to adhere to responsibilities that are defined under Clause 7 of the Statistics Determination 1983, under the Census and Statistics ACT 1905. These responsibilities are provided in the microdata Undertaking that is signed by a Responsible Officer of each organisation, prior to microdata products being released.

In addition, each individual microdata user is required to sign and abide by an Individual Undertaking and Declaration of Compliance.

Conditions of sale

All ABS products and services are provided subject to the ABS Disclaimer, ABS Copyright and ABS Conditions of Sale. Any queries relating to these Conditions of Sale should be emailed to intermediary.management@abs.gov.au.

Price

Microdata access is priced according to the ABS Pricing Policy and Commonwealth Cost Recovery Guidelines. For details refer to ABS Pricing Policy on the ABS Website. For microdata prices, refer to the Microdata prices web page.

How to apply for access

To apply for access to this dataset in the DataLab, information on access steps can be found on the How to Apply for Microdata page on the ABS website.

Australian universities

The ABS/Universities Australia Agreement provides participating universities with access to a range of ABS products and services. This includes access to microdata. For further information, university clients should refer to the ABS/Universities of Australia Agreement web page.

Citations

Information or data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics must be acknowledged responsibly whenever it is used. Citing, or referencing, is important for several reasons, including acknowledging that one has used the ideas, words or data of others. Accurately citing sources used also allows others to find and use original information. For information on how to cite ABS data please refer to Guide to ABS Sources.

The microdata web pages dedicate space for all submitted citations on our website, from the Published Research Using ABS Microdata web page. This information can assist in two ways: broadening the author's audience and assisting in the decision-making process for upcoming use of ABS microdata.

Further information

The Microdata Entry page on the ABS website contains links to microdata-related information to assist users in understanding and accessing microdata. For further information, users should email microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone (02) 6252 7714.

For further information about data sources, data scope, linking methodology, weighting methodology and data quality see the Explanatory Notes section. The Data Items List is available from the Data downloads section.

For further information about the Test File, see the Test File section. The Test File is available in the Data downloads section.

Inquiries

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the ABS information centre on 1300 135 070, or use the Contact us form. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Data downloads

I-Note

A test file has been created for the Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics, Australia microdata product. The purpose of the test file is to allow researchers/analysts to become familiar with the data structure and prepare code/programs prior to applying for, or commencing, an ABS Data Laboratory session.

The test file is available as a free download from the Data downloads section. It can also be made available in other file formats on request, if required. For further information users should email microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone (02) 6252 7714.

The test file does not contain real data, and cannot be used for analysis.

Data files

Explanatory notes

Show all

Introduction

1 The Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics microdata product contains death registration records with added variables from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. This has been achieved through a process of probabilistic linkage, whereby death registrations were linked to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. The key feature of the linkage methodology used is the ability to locate records on two datasets that may refer to the same person, by evaluating the degree of commonality exhibited by a range of personal variables common to the two datasets. In total, 153,455 deaths were registered in the period from 10 August 2011 and 27 September 2012. The probabilistic linkage strategy linked 123,910 of these death registrations with records on the 2011 Census. For further information on the linkage strategy, see Research Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project - A Linked Dataset for Analysis (cat. no. 1351.0.55.058).

2 The microdata product was produced as part of the Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project: A Linked Dataset for Analysis. The aim of the project was to re-create a linked death registrations to census dataset which had been previously conducted under the Census Data Enhancement (CDE) program. The methods employed for the microdata product involved using demographic variables common to both datasets, but which excluded name and address, to produce a single numerical measure of how well two records match. The original Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project was conducted to evaluate the consistency of Indigenous identification reported in the Death Registrations data and the Census data, and subsequently provide input into life tables and life expectancy estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The original project fell under the terms of the CDE program, which in conjunction with other personal characteristics, allowed for name and address information to be used in the data integration process to create a "gold standard" of data linkage. This file was not available for external use, but it did provide a benchmark for future linkage projects to be measured against, as is the case with the current microdata product.

Data sources

3 Mortality-related data items in the linked dataset come from the death registration process. Death registrations are provided to the Australian Bureau of Statistics by State and Territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. As part of the registration process, information about the cause of death is supplied by a medical practitioner certifying the death, or by a coroner. Other information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of an institution where the death occurred. For deaths which are certified by a coroner, the ABS also receives information pertaining to cause of death from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). For further information about the death registration process, information sources and scope and coverage of death registrations in Australia, see the Explanatory Notes in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).

4 The 2011 Census of Population and Housing was held on Tuesday, 9 August, 2011. The Census provides a wealth of information about the Australian community. Further information about the 2011 Census and links to reference information, including the 2011 Census Dictionary, can be found on the 2011 reference and information page of the ABS website. The Census variables included in the linked dataset can be found in the Data Item List, in the Data downloads section.

Scope and coverage

Scope of causes of death statistics in the microdata product

5 This data integration project includes 153,455 Death Registrations where the death occurred between August 10, 2011 and September 27, 2012. This reference period for the project was selected in order to capture as many deaths as possible of people who were counted in the 2011 Census of Population and Housing which was conducted on August 9, 2011.

6 Each year there are lags between the occurrence of a death and the registration of a death. This means that during a specified period, the number of deaths registered would be lower than the number of deaths that occurred, particularly deaths which occurred towards the end of a reference period.

Coverage of causes of death statistics

7 The ABS Causes of Death collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia, including deaths of persons whose usual residence is overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in ABS deaths or causes of death statistics.

8 The scope of causes of death statistics includes: 

  • all deaths being registered for the first time;
  • deaths in Australia of temporary visitors to Australia;
  • deaths occurring within Australian Territorial waters;
  • deaths occurring in Australian Antarctic Territories or other external territories (excluding Norfolk Island);
  • deaths occurring in transit (i.e. on ships or planes) if registered in the State of 'next port of call';
  • deaths of Australian Nationals overseas who were employed at Australian legations and consular offices (i.e. deaths of Australian diplomats while overseas) where able to be identified; and
  • deaths that occurred in earlier reference periods that have not been previously registered (late registrations).

9 The scope of the statistics excludes:

  • repatriation of human remains where the death occurred overseas;

  • deaths overseas of foreign diplomatic staff (where these are able to be identified);

  • deaths occurring on Norfolk Island; and

  • stillbirths/fetal deaths (these are included in perinatal counts

Scope and coverage of 2011 Census of Population and Housing

10 The 2011 Census of Population and Housing was held on August 9, 2011. All people in Australia on Census Night are in scope, except for foreign diplomats and their families. Visitors to Australia are counted regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. Australian residents not in the country on Census Night are out of scope of the Census.

Classifications

11 Classifications used in the mortality and Census datasets include:

International classification of diseases

12 Causes of death statistics are coded to the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision (ICD-10). The ICD is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of causes of death statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases and causes of disease or injury as recorded on many types of medical records as well as death records. The ICD has been revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field.

13 The ICD-10 is a variable-axis classification meaning that the classification does not group diseases only based on anatomical sites, but also on the type of disease. Epidemiological data and statistical data is grouped according to:

  • epidemic diseases;
  • constitutional or general diseases;
  • local diseases arranged by site;
  • developmental diseases; and
  • injuries.

14 For example, a systemic disease such as sepsis is grouped with infectious diseases; a disease primarily affecting one body system, such as a myocardial infarction, is grouped with circulatory diseases; and a congenital condition, such as spina bifida, is grouped with congenital conditions.

15 For further information about the ICD refer to WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

16 The records in the linked dataset were coded according to the 2006 version of the ICD-10, with the exception of two more recent updates applied by the ABS. The first update was applied in 2007 and relates to the use of mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use, acute intoxication (F10.0, F11.0...F19.0) as an underlying cause of death. If the acute intoxication initiated the train of morbid events it is now assigned an external accidental poisoning code (X40-X49) corresponding to the type of drug used. For example, if the death had been due to alcohol intoxication, the underlying cause before the update was F10.0, and after the update the underlying cause is X45, with poisoning code T51.9. The second update implemented from the 2009 reference year was the addition of Influenza due to certain identified virus (J09) to the Influenza and Pneumonia block. This addition was implemented to capture deaths due to Swine flu and Avian flu, which were reaching health epidemic status worldwide.

Types of death

17 All causes of death can be grouped to describe the type of death, whether it be from a disease or condition, from an injury, or whether the cause is unknown. These are generally described as:

  • Natural Causes - deaths due to diseases (for example diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc.) (A00-Q99, R00-R98)
  • External Causes - deaths due to causes external to the body (for example intentional self-harm, transport accidents, falls, poisoning etc.) (V01-Y98)
  • Unknown Causes - deaths where it is unable to be determined whether the cause was natural or external (R99).
 

Causes of death in the linked dataset

Underlying cause of death and multiple causes of death

18 Causes of death are most commonly presented based on the Underlying Cause of Death (UCOD), which is the disease or injury that initiated the morbid events leading directly to death. Accidental and violent deaths are classified according to the external cause, that is, to the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury rather than to the nature of the injury. In the linked dataset, the underlying cause of death is represented by the 'UCOD' variable.

19 Statistical analyses can also be conducted using multiple causes of death. Multiple causes of deaths refer to all morbid conditions, diseases and injuries entered on the death certificate. These include those involved in the morbid train of events leading to death which were classified as either the underlying cause, the immediate cause, or any intervening causes, as well as those conditions that contributed to death but were not related to the disease or condition causing death. For deaths where the underlying cause was identified as an external cause (for example suicide, a fall, homicide etc.) multiple causes include the circumstances of injury/poisoning and the nature of injury/poisoning as well as any other conditions reported on the death certificate.

20 Multiple causes of death can be selected in the linked dataset using the variables MCOD_1 to MCOD_14. No death registrations in this dataset recorded more than 14 conditions on the death certificate. In principle, MCOD_1 represents the underlying cause of death. This means, the ICD-10 code in the field for UCOD and MCOD_1 in the detailed microdata product for a record should be the same. The MCODs following MCOD_1 (MCOD_2, MCOD_3 etc.) are listed alphabetically, according to their ICD-10 code and have no relationship to ordering of conditions on the death certificate.

21 There are a small number of records in the linked dataset for which the UCOD and MCOD_1 do not match. The mismatch in these variables can be divided into two types. Firstly, the UCOD does not equal MCOD_1, but appears in the MCOD_2 to MCOD_14 fields. For such cases, the UCOD should be considered as the official underlying cause, and all other codes should be considered as associated causes. The second case is where the UCOD does not appear in any of the MCOD1-14 filelds. In these cases it is recommended that multiple cause analysis not be performed.

Reliability of estimates

22 Error in estimates produced using the mortality enhanced characteristics data file may occur due to false links and missed links.

Link rate

23 A link rate of 81% was achieved between the census and mortality datasets, resulting in a dataset of 123,910 records. However this link rate was not achieved uniformly over all possible sub-populations of interest within the mortality dataset.

24 For example, link rates were lower than average for the overlapping subpopulations of:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People;
  • People living in remote and very remote regions;
  • Residents of the Northern Territory; and
  • Persons aged under 50 years.

Among causes of death, the link rates for intentional self harm were lower than those of the other selected causes. A weighting strategy has been used to partly mitigate for this: See below.

25 Subpopulations with low link rates should be analysed with caution. See the Research Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project - A Linked Dataset for Analysis (cat. no. 1351.0.55.058) for considerations and recommendations for these subpopulations in the dataset.

Weights - Stage 1 and stage 2

26 In total, 153,455 deaths were registered in the period from 10 August 2011 and 27 September 2012. The probabilistic linkage strategy linked 123,910 of these death registrations with records on the 2011 Census. To increase the representativeness of the linked file, a two stage weighting strategy was applied. The Research Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project - A Linked Dataset for Analysis (cat. no. 1351.0.55.058) alerts users of this data to pertinent issues that arise in the analysis of linked data. Familiarity with these issues will assist users to frame suitable research questions, select appropriate weighting options, and make sound inferences.

27 The linkage rate of 81% (123,910 linked deaths/153,455 death registrations) is not recognised uniformly over all subpopulations of interest. For example, people living outside of capital cities had a lower linkage rate than people living within capital cities. To adjust for relative under or over representation of selected subpopulations in the linked dataset, Stage 1 weights can be applied to the microdata product. The demographic categories used to define subpopulations for the Stage 1 weights are shown in the table below:

SexAge CohortMigrantCity 
M= MaleAO= Born after 1945MO= Born in AustraliaCO= Does not live in a major capital city 
F= FemaleA1= Born after 1946M1= Born in Europe (incl. UK)C1= Lives in a major city 
  M2= Born elsewhere overseas  

28 Stage 1 weights can also be modified to derive Stage 2 weights. Specifically, the Stage 2 weights enable analysts to restore the weighted totals of selected aggregates, which is useful for analysis, especially when measuring against external sources. This second weight can be applied to the microdata product in two scenarios. Firstly, a need may exist to match record counts for selected categories in the original Deaths Registrations dataset. For example, 15 selected causes of death have a Stage 2 weight available for application, and when these are summed with the weight applied, will amount to the total Death Registrations. Secondly, there are a small number of examples where the Stage 1 weight alone does not restore the representativeness of a variable in all dimensions. For detailed information regarding the cause of death weightings and other issues relating to the weighting strategy see: Research Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project - A Linked Dataset for Analysis (cat. no. 1351.0.55.058).

29 The multiple cause of death data was an addition to the Microdata: Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics, 2011-12, product after the weighting strategy had been applied. Therefore, it is recommended that weights are not applied when analysing the multiple cause of death dataset.

30 As the weights are designed to adjust for under and over representative of subpopulations in the microdata product, the numerical value assigned to the weight do not equal a whole rounded number (e.g. the Stage 2 Weight for blood and lymph cancers is approximately 0.95). This means that when a weighting is applied to a variable in the dataset, the total number will not be a total (e.g. 110.5). It is recommended that weighted numbers be rounded in output.

Data considerations

31 Please note that this microdata file contains 123,907 records. This is three fewer than the 123,910 records in the original probabilistic-linked dataset and supplementary tables presented in the Research Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project - A Linked Dataset for Analysis (cat. no. 1351.0.55.058). This is a result of three death registrations being recognised as out of scope for linkage purposes subsequent to the linkage process.

32 As noted in the Research Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project - A Linked Dataset for Analysis (cat. no. 1351.0.55.058), the weighting strategy applied to the dataset was experimental, with the aim being to provide weights which would be fit for purpose for analytical purposes. There may be potential for future products to consider other weighting strategies if deemed necessary for analytical purposes.

Confidentiality

33 In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, all extracted data will be subjected to a confidentiality process before release. This process is undertaken to minimise the risk of identifying particular individuals, families, households or dwellings in aggregate statistics, through analysis of published data.

Further information

34 It is recommended that users of the microdata product consult the glossary, explanatory notes and technical materials included in Causes of Death, Australia (catalogue number 3303.0) and the reference and information relating to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing: 2011 reference and information.

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Mortality data in this microdata product are sourced from death registrations administered by the various state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It is a legal requirement of each state and territory that all deaths are registered. Information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred on a Death Registration Form. As part of the registration process, information on the cause of death is either supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death on a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation.

Death records were provided electronically to the ABS by individual Registrars on a monthly basis. Each death record contains both demographic data and medical information from the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, where available. Information from coronial investigations is provided to the ABS through the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).

Relevance

Mortality data

The ABS causes of death collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia, including deaths of persons whose usual residence is overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in ABS deaths or causes of death statistics.

Data in the Causes of Death collection include Causes of Death information, as well as some demographic items. Causes of Death information is obtained from the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (general deaths), the Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death (perinatal deaths) and the National Coronial Information System (coroner-certified deaths). Causes of Death are coded according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Issues for causes of death data:
  • The primary objective of the owner of the source data can differ from the information needs of the statistical users. Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and coroners have legislative and administrative obligations to meet, as well as being the source of statistics. As a result, the population covered by the source data, the time reference period for some data, and the data items available in the registration system, may not align exactly with the requirements of users of the statistics.
  • There can be differences between the defined scope of the population (i.e. every death occurring in Australia) and the actual coverage achieved by the registration system. Levels of registration can be influenced by external factors and coverage achieved will be influenced by the steps taken by the owners of death registration systems to ensure all deaths are registered. For example, a death certificate may need to be produced in order to finalise certain other legal requirements e.g. finalisation of a person's estate.
  • There are eight different registration systems within Australia. Each jurisdiction's registration system, while similar in many ways, also has a number of differences. These can include the types of data items collected, the definition of those collected data items, and business processes undertaken within Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages including coding and quality assurance practices.
Census of Population and Housing data

The Australian Census of Population and Housing is the official count of population and dwellings and collects details of age, sex and other characteristics of the population.

The Census aims to measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on Census Night. All people in Australia on Census Night are in scope, except foreign diplomats and their families. Visitors to Australia are counted regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. Australian residents not in the country on Census Night are out of scope of the Census.

Topics collected by the Census change from time to time. There must be a demonstrated national need for Census data for policy development, planning and program monitoring. Details on the changing content of Censuses from 1911 to 2011 can be found in Appendix 4 of How Australia Takes a Census (cat. no. 2903.0). A copy of the 2016 Census Household Form is included in the Appendix to the Census Dictionary, 2011 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Minimal changes were made to the 2011 Census questions, however there were some major changes in some of the classifications used. The largest of these is the change around geographical units used to output Census data. The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) will be used for the 2011 Census for the first time. Other revised classifications have been used for the coding of occupation, industry, cultural and ethnic groups, language, religion and countries. For more detail see the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).

Timeliness

Mortality data

There is a focus on fitness for purpose when causes of death statistics are released. To meet user requirements for accurate causes of death data it is necessary to obtain information from other administrative sources before all information for the reference period is available. This specifically applies to coroner certified deaths, where extra information relating to the death is provided through police, toxicology, autopsy and coronial finding reports. A balance therefore needs to be maintained between accuracy (completeness) of data and timeliness.

As coroner certified deaths can have ill-defined causes of death until a case is closed within the coronial system, a revisions process was introduced to enhance the cause of death output for open coroner cases. This process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths either 12 or 24 months after initial processing. See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and the Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014, for further information on the revision process.

Issues for causes of death data:
  • A balance is maintained between accuracy (completeness) and timeliness, taking into account the different needs of users and maximising the fitness for purpose of the data. Documentation including explanatory notes and technical notes are provided for causes of death statistics. These should be used to assess the fitness for purpose of the data to ensure informed decisions can be made.
  • The timeliness of administrative information that supports cause of death coding can be impacted by legislative requirements, systems and resources available to maintain/update systems.
Census of Population and Housing data

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 requires the Australian Statistician to conduct a Census on a regular basis. Since 1961, a Census has been held every 5 years. The 2011 Census was the 16th national Census, and marked the centenary of national Censuses in Australia. It was held on 9 August 2011.

For the 2011 Census, first release data was available on the ABS website on 21 June 2012, second release data on 30 October 2012 and third release data on 28 March 2013, with products released progressively until the end of 2013.

Accuracy

Mortality data

Non-sampling errors may influence accuracy in datasets which constitute a complete census of the population, such as the Causes of Death collection. Non-sample error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise non-sample error by working closely with data providers, conducting quality checks throughout the data processing cycle, training of processing staff, and efficient data processing procedures.

The ABS has implemented a revisions process that applies to all coroner certified deaths registered after 1 January 2006. This is a change from preceding years where all ABS processing of causes of death data for a particular reference period was finalised approximately 13 months after the end of the reference period. The revisions process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths as it becomes available over time, resulting in increased specificity of the assigned ICD-10 codes. See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and the Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014, for further information on the revision process.

Issues for causes of death data:
  • Completeness of the dataset e.g. impact of registration lags, processing lags and duplicate records.
  • Extent of coverage of the population (while all deaths are legally required to be registered some cases may not be registered for an extended time).
  • Some lack of consistency in the application of questions or forms used by administrative data providers.
  • The level of specificity and completeness in coronial reports or doctor's findings on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.
  • Errors in the coding of the causes of a death to ICD-10. The majority of cause of death coding is undertaken through an automated coding process, which is estimated to have a very high level of accuracy. Human coding can be subject to error, however the ABS mitigates this risk through rigorous coder training, detailed documentation and instructions for coding complex or difficult cases, and extensive data quality checks.
  • Cases where coronial proceedings remain open at the end of ABS processing for a reference period are potentially assigned a less specific ICD-10 cause of death code.
Census of Population and Housing data

The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into Census form design, collection procedures and processing. There are four principal sources of error in Census data which quality management aims to reduce as much as possible; they are respondent error, processing error, partial or non-response and undercount. For more detail, see the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0)

The Census is self-enumerated, and respondents sometimes do not return a Census form or fail to answer every applicable question. Persons are imputed into dwellings for which no form was returned, together with some demographic characteristics for these people. These same demographic characteristics are imputed if not provided by respondents on a returned form. However, the majority of output classifications include a 'Not Stated' category to record the level of non-response for that data item. Data quality statements are produced for each Census data item and include the non-response rate for each variable and a brief outline of any known data quality problems, as well as a comparison with the non-response rate for the 2006 Census.

Coherence

Mortality data

The ICD is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of cause of death statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases, conditions, injuries and external events as recorded on many types of medical records as well as death records. It is used for both morbidity and mortality purposes, with the morbidity version incorporating clinical modifications. The ICD is revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field. The 10th revision of ICD (ICD-10) is used for the 2011 and 2012 data included in the microdata product.

Census of Population and Housing data

It is important for Census data to be compatible with previous Censuses and also with other data produced by the ABS and wider community. The ABS, and the Census, uses Australian standard classifications, where available and appropriate, to provide data comparability across statistical collections. These include, for example, standards for occupation and geographic areas. For more details regarding classifications used in the Census, see the Census Dictionary, 2011 (cat. no. 2901.0) entry About Census Classifications, and the relevant entries for each classification.

Interpretability

Mortality data

The Causes of Death publication (cat. no. 3303.0) contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Technical Notes, Appendices and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.

Census of Population and Housing data

The Census provides a wealth of data about the Australian community through a suite of standard products, and data customised for individual requirements. The Census Dictionary, 2011 (cat. no. 2901.0) is a comprehensive reference guide designed to assist users to determine and specify their data requirements, and to understand the concepts underlying the data. It provides details of classifications used and a glossary of definitions of Census terms.

A number of other resources can be accessed from the Census of Population and Housing Data quality page on the ABS website. This includes data quality statements, non-response rates and fact sheets.

Accessibility

The ABS observes strict confidentiality protocols as required by the Census and Statistics Act (1905), which users of this microdata product must observe. This will restrict the use of some aspects of this data.

Mortality data

A wide range of other causes of death data is available in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).
A national causes of death unit record file can also be obtained through the Australian Coordinating Registry via the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (data available on application for legitimate research purposes only).

Census of Population and Housing data

A variety of other data from the Census of Population and Housing is available free of charge on the ABS website. The ABS may also have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by sending an email to client.services@abs.gov.au.

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that individuals provide to the ABS.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3303.0.55.002.