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4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/06/2013   
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Contents >> Population characteristics >> Household and family characteristics

HOUSEHOLD AND FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS

Definition

A 'household' is defined as one or more persons, at least one of whom is aged 18 years and over, usually resident in the same private dwelling.

A 'family' is defined as two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering; and who are usually resident in the same household. The basis of a family is formed by identifying the presence of a couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship. Some households, therefore, contain more than one family.

Population

Information was collected for all selected and non-selected persons in NHS and NNPAS.

Methodology

Information was collected about the households and families to which people belong. This information enables some understanding of the situation in which people live, which may impact on their health and related characteristics.

In addition to the items describing the characteristics of household units, basic information is available about each member of the selected households. This enables the circumstances of the respondent to be better understood and provides scope to rework some items (e.g. equivalised income) to suit particular data needs. Items available for each member of the household are:

  • sex
  • age
  • Indigenous status
  • relationship in household
  • family composition
  • country of birth
  • marital status
  • survey status (selected child or adult, or not selected).

Relationship in household and family composition are discussed below. More information on the other topics is available from in Demographic and socio-economic characteristics. A full list of output data items are available from the Downloads tab of this publication.

Household characteristics

Household level estimates are available from this survey for household size, type and composition, geographic location, dwelling characteristics, income and SEIFA characteristics of the area in which the dwelling is located. Selected items are discussed below.

Household composition

Households are allocated to categories of the 'Household composition' classification on the basis of:
  • the type of families identified in the household
  • whether unrelated household members are present in a family household
  • whether the number of household members is greater than one in a non-family household.

The standard 'Household composition' classification comprises the following categories:
  • one family household with only family members present
  • two family household with only family members present
  • three or more family household with only family members present
  • one family household with non-family members present
  • two family household with non-family members present
  • three or more family household with non-family members present
  • lone person household
  • group household.

Household type

This refers to the composition of the household, based on the information about the residents of the household provided by the responsible adult (ARA). Output categories are:
  • person living alone
  • couple (opposite sex) only
  • couple (opposite sex) with unmarried child(ren) aged 15 years and over
  • couple (opposite sex) with child(ren) aged less than 15 years
  • couple (opposite sex) with child(ren) aged less than 15 years and unmarried child(ren) aged 15 years and over
  • lone parent with unmarried child(ren) aged 15 years and over
  • lone parent with child(ren) aged less than 15 years
  • lone parent with child(ren) aged less than 15 years and unmarried child(ren) aged 15 years and over
  • all other households (a more detailed breakdown of this category is available from the Data item list).

Number of persons in household

This refers to a count of persons who are usual residents of the household dwelling and members of the household to which the respondent belongs.

Additional output items are available including:
  • number of children aged 0-14 years in household
  • number of children aged 0-17 years in household
  • number of persons in household aged over 14 years
  • number of adults in household.

Additional calculations can be made using available data on the All Persons level.

Number of daily smokers in household

As reported by the selected NHS adult respondent - see Tobacco smoking.

Household income

As reported by the selected adult respondent - see Income sources.

Equivalised income

Differences in household types and compositions, and their requirements relative to income, can be taken into account by the application of equivalence scales. These scales are a set of ratios which, when applied to the income of different household or income unit types, produce standardised estimates of income which reflect the households' relative well-being. The modified OECD equivalence scale (1994) was used.

Equivalised income is derived by calculating an equivalence factor and then dividing income by that factor. The equivalence factor is built up by allocating points to each person in the household unit and summing those points. One point is allocated to the first adult in the unit, 0.5 points for each other person aged 15 years and over, and 0.3 points for each person aged less than 15 years. For example:
  • A single person household has a factor of one. Equivalised income is therefore the same as reported income.
  • A household comprising two adults and a child aged less than 15 years would have a factor of 1.8. Equivalised income for this household is therefore the household income divided by 1.8.

Equivalised income is available in dollar amounts and deciles.

Income deciles and quintiles

Income deciles are groupings that result from ranking either all households or all persons in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic, such as income, and then dividing the population into ten equal groups, each comprising 10% of the estimated population. The first decile contains the bottom 10%, the second decile contains the next 10%, and so on. Quintiles are derived by adding together the first and second decile for the first quintile, third and fourth decile for the second quintile, etc.

To assist in the use and interpretation of income deciles or quintiles at the person or household level, it is necessary to exclude income which is not stated or not known. If one or more of the contributing person records in a household has a value of 'not stated' or 'not known', then household income and derived income deciles are set to '98. Not stated' or '99. Not known' as it is not possible to determine an accurate value. Care should be taken to exclude these codes when categorising higher income values, and when calculating means, medians and other summary statistics.

For 2011-12, the dollar ranges covered by deciles in all income items can be found at Appendix 5: Income deciles.

Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFAs)

From information collected in the Census of Population and Housing, the ABS has developed indexes to allow ranking of regions/areas, providing a method of determining the level of social and economic well-being in that region. There are four indexes:
  • the Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage/Disadvantage, which is a continuum of advantage (high values), to disadvantage (low values), that takes into account variables like the proportion of families with high incomes, people with a tertiary education and employees in skilled occupations
  • the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage, which is derived from variables such as income, educational attainment, unemployment, and dwellings without motor vehicles. Attributes summarised by this index include low income, low educational attainment, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations
  • the Index of Economic Resources, which focuses on variables concerning the income, expenditure and assets of families, such as family income, rent paid, mortgage repayments and dwelling size
  • the Index of Education and Occupation, which includes variables relating to the educational and occupational characteristics of communities, such as the proportion of people with a higher qualification or those employed in a skilled occupation.

Both the 2006 and 2011 versions of SEIFA are available for use. It is emphasised, however, that these indexes relate to the area in which the survey respondent lived, and are not necessarily indicative of an individual respondent's socio-economic status. The 2006 index scores have been mapped to the CD and SLA levels on both a National and State basis. The 2011 index scores have been mapped to the SA1 and SA2 levels on both a National and State basis. As the methodology for defining SEIFA has not changed between 2006 and 2011, comparisons between estimates based on both SEIFAs are both possible and reasonable.

For further information about the 2006 indexes, see Information Paper: Census of Population and Housing - Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0). For further information about the 2011 indexes, see Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001).

The Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage is the SEIFA index most frequently used for analysis of health characteristics. AHS publications up to and including Updated Results (4364.0.55.003) use the 2006 Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage. AHS publications from Physical Activity (4364.0.55.004) onwards use the 2011 Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage.

SEIFA deciles/quintiles

SEIFAs are commonly used to group populations into deciles or quintiles of a particular index. In the AHS, this enables comparisons to be made between the health characteristics, for example, of people living in less advantaged areas with those in more advantaged areas.

SEIFA deciles/quintiles can be derived in two ways - area-based and population-based.
  • Area-based deciles/quintiles are derived by grouping the applicable geography level (CD/SLA/SA1/SA2) into 10/5 equal groups (equal number of geography type in each group) and then allocating these groups to survey records in the same CD or SLA.
  • Population-based deciles/quintiles are derived by splitting the Census population into 10 (for deciles) / 5 (for quintiles) equal groups at CD/SLA/SA1/SA2 level for each SEIFA index based on the SEIFA score for that index, and then allocating these groups to the survey records in the same geography type.

For the AHS, SEIFA decile items have been derived for Area-based groupings. Because all CDs/SLAs/SA1s/SA2s are not equal in size and because the AHS samples are not selected to ensure an equal sample distribution at these lower level geographies, this method does not result in an equal number of people (either records or weighted estimates) in each decile/quintile.

Confusion can arise about the ordering of the deciles/quintiles created from SEIFA indexes. ABS constructs all four indexes so that relatively disadvantaged areas (e.g. areas with many low income recipients) have low index values, and relatively advantaged areas (e.g. areas with many high income recipients) have high index values. Correspondingly, in ABS publications and other outputs, SEIFA deciles are numbered from decile 1 or lowest decile (most disadvantaged), to decile 10 or highest decile (least disadvantaged). Quintiles are labelled similarly.

For consistency, this ordering applies to all indexes, irrespective of whether they are named as indexes of advantage and/or disadvantage. Care needs to be taken in comparing SEIFA analyses undertaken by different agencies, as quintiles or deciles may be labelled in reverse order to the standard ABS order.

SEIFAs were not available for a small number of records obtained in the AHS, because some CDs/SA1s/SA2s do not have a SEIFA score calculated for them due to their very small population at the time of the Census. These records were excluded before SEIFA quintiles and deciles were created.

Family characteristics

The composition of specific families within households is available on the All Persons level. This can provide a more detailed understanding of the family unit to which a person belongs than provided at the Household level.

'Family composition' is defined as the differentiation of families based on the presence or absence of couple relationships, parent-child relationships, child dependency relationships or other familial relationships, in that order of precedence. The 'family composition' of a particular family is created through the relationships that exist between a single 'responsible adult' and each other member of that family living in the household. Family composition is then allocated on the basis of whether the types of relationships given below are present or not in the family in the following order of precedence:
  • A couple relationship is defined as a registered or de facto marriage, including same-sex relationships.
  • A parent-child relationship is defined as a relationship between two persons usually resident in the same household. The child is attached to the parent via a natural, adoptive, step, foster or child dependency relationship.
  • A child dependency relationship is defined as including all children under the age of 15 (whether related or unrelated to the family reference person) and those natural, step, adopted or foster children who are full-time students 15-24 years of age.
  • Other relationship is defined as including all those persons related by blood or by marriage who are not covered by the above relationships.

Family composition is categorised as follows:
  • couple family with no children under 15
      • couple family with no children under 15 and no dependent students
  • couple family with children under 15
      • couple family with children under 15 and dependent students
      • couple family with children under 15, dependent students and non-dependent children
      • couple family with children under 15, dependent students and no non-dependent children
  • couple family with children under 15 and no dependent students
      • couple family with children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
      • couple family with children under 15, no dependent students and no non-dependent children
  • couple family with no children under 15
      • couple family with no children under 15 and with dependent students
      • couple family with no children under 15, and with dependent students and non-dependent children
      • couple family with no children under 15, and with dependent students and no non-dependent children
  • couple family with no children under 15 and no dependent students
      • couple family with no children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
  • one parent family with children under 15
      • one parent family with children under 15 and dependent students
      • one parent family with children under 15, dependent students and non-dependent children
      • one parent family with children under 15, dependent students and no non-dependent children
  • one parent family with children under 15 and no dependent students
      • one parent family with children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
      • one parent family with children under 15, no dependent students and no non-dependent children
  • one parent family with no children under 15
      • one parent family with no children under 15 and with dependent students
      • one parent family with no children under 15, with dependent students and non-dependent children
      • one parent family with no children under 15, with dependent students and no non-dependent children
      • one parent family with no children under 15 and no dependent students
      • one parent family with no children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children
  • other family.

The definition of family used for the AHS is a more restrictive definition than the ordinary notion of the term 'family' which generally includes relatives whether they live together or not. This is a reflection of the fact that for survey-based research it is necessary to place some physical bound on the extent of family, for the purposes of being able to collect family data.

Relationship in household

Relationship in household was derived from information supplied by the responsible adult (ARA) who answered the initial survey questions for each household, about all usual residents of the household. It describes the relationship of each person in a household to the ARA (i.e. wife, son, not related). Output categories are:
  • husband, wife or partner
  • lone parent
  • child aged less than 15 years
  • dependent student
  • non-dependent child
  • other related person
  • non-family member
  • visitor.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.

Comparability with 2007-08

Data is considered directly comparable between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 surveys.

The 2001 SEIFA was not added to the 2011-12 data files as it is now considered to be outdated.


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