Overview of family, household and income unit standards

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Family, Household and Income Unit Variables
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The Overview of Family, Household and Income Unit Standards explains the precise concept of the family that is used in the ABS as the basis for standards for statistics on the household and family, and defines the concepts that are used in the different standards. It contains a brief description of the standards themselves, and explains how operational procedures and standard question modules enable the collection of data which conform to the standards. It also contains a summary of the changes made between these standards and 'Standards for statistics on the family' released in 1995, and a glossary of terms containing definitions applicable to all the standards.

The ABS began publishing standards on aspects of the family and the household in Australia in 1993 and many were consolidated in Standards for Statistics on Family Variables, 1995 (cat. no. 1286.0). These standards were reviewed in 2005 and a revised suite was published under the same catalogue number. A minor review of the standards was undertaken in 2013.

The broad purpose of using these standards in ABS collections is to produce an accurate statistical picture of the structures of Australian families. They provide definitions of concepts, methods of data collection, derivation procedures and output formats for use in all relevant ABS and external statistical collections. Debates related to social policy and social support can then draw on consistent evidence about families taken from a range of sources. The standards are underpinned by a consistent definition of the family, which is sufficiently comprehensive to inform debate and sufficiently robust to be useful in a variety of statistical applications.

Key issues that can be examined by applying these standards include the diversity of families and the changing structure of households; relationship breakdown and family formation and dissolution; the extent of caring that takes place in families; the amount of unpaid household work; the combination of paid work and family responsibilities; the way in which men and women share family responsibilities; support from absent or extended family members; the needs of disadvantaged families; and the importance of secure and affordable housing for families.

Terminology used in these standards is defined in the Glossary.

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