Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) seek to summarise the socio-economic conditions of an area using relevant information from the Census of Population and Housing. The SEIFA indexes are widely used measures of relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage at the Statistical Area Level 1 level.
The indexes provide information about the area in which a person lives, but within any area there are likely to be households, families and individuals with different characteristics to the overall population of that area. Constructing socio-economic summary measures for finer units such as households would enable researchers and policy makers in Australia to better differentiate between areas with concentrations of advantage and disadvantage. A household socio-economic index of disadvantage would also enhance analyses by enabling cross-classifications with Census data.
This paper proposes an experimental household level index as an addition to the current suite of SEIFA products. It would complement the area level rankings by adding more depth to the information given by SEIFA, as well as providing its own valuable insights. Producing a household index would also allow users to make more accurate inferences about smaller units, rather than confounding the characteristics of areas with the people living within them.
This paper builds on previous research at the Australian Bureau of Statistics into socio-economic indexes for individuals and families started in Baker and Adhikari (2007, cat. no. 1352.0.55.086) and the individual diversity within areas of socio-economic status in Wise and Mathews (2011, cat. no. 1351.0.55.036). Using 2011 Australian Census of Population and Housing data, this paper focuses on an exploration into the development and dissemination of a socio-economic index for households. It seeks to address issues raised in these two previous research papers.