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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 >> Income sources

INCOME SOURCES

Definition

Income information relates primarily to regular/recurring cash income only.

Population

Information was collected about the personal income of all persons aged 15 years and over in the NHS.

Information was collected about the household income of all persons aged 18 years and over in the NHS and NNPAS.

Methodology

Household income

Household income was collected in both the NHS and the NNPAS, although in slightly different ways.

In NHS, the adult respondent within each household was asked to provide information about the combined income of all non-selected household members aged 15 years and over. Personal income was also collected from the selected respondents aged 15 years and over and contributed to the overall household income.

In NNPAS, the adult respondent within each household was asked to provide information about the combined income of all household members aged 15 years and over.

In both surveys, the adult respondent was asked for the applicable combined income total from all sources, and the period that total amount covered (e.g. weekly, fortnightly etc).

In cases where income was not reported, values were not imputed and missing data appears as 'not stated' or 'not known' values in survey output. In NHS, if any contributing income item at the person level has a value of 'not stated' or 'not known', then totals derived from these items are also set to 'not stated' or 'not known'.

Total cash income at the household level, in weekly dollar amounts is available for:

  • reported
  • equivalised.

Both of these were also derived into deciles.

The cut-offs for the decile items were calculated using combined data from both NHS and NNPAS and has been applied to the NHS, NNPAS and Core data items. These are further explained in the section of this chapter entitled 'Household and Family characteristics'. Decile cut-offs tables are available in Appendix 5: Income deciles.

Personal income

Personal income was only collected in the NHS.

'Gross cash income' refers to total cash (in dollar amounts) income from all sources before tax or anything else (except business expenses) is taken out. Respondents were asked to report.
  • The gross cash income they currently received from wages or salary, a government pension or allowance, child support or maintenance, superannuation or annuity, workers' compensation or any other regular source. The period to which that reported income related could be recorded in weeks or months.
  • The gross cash income they expected to receive from profit or loss from their own unincorporated business or share in a partnership; profit or loss from rental property; or dividends or interest in the current financial year. Provision was made to record nil income.

Income from all sources was combined to produce a total personal cash income, which is usually expressed for output in annual or weekly income ranges. Incomes in reported dollar amounts and in deciles are stored on the data file.

Respondents were asked whether they received income from wages and salaries (including from their own incorporated business), and if so, how much, and the period the amount covered. This topic included wages and salaries from all jobs, whether full-time or part-time; wages and salaries paid to a respondent from their own incorporated business; and commissions paid to sales staff. It excluded dividends received from shares in an incorporated business; and Newstart or Youth Allowance received under the Work for the Dole Scheme.

Respondents were then asked whether they currently received a government pension, allowance and benefit, and if so, were sequenced to a series of questions to determine the specific pension, benefit or allowance, as follows:
  • Australian Age Pension
  • Service pension from the Department of Veteran's Affairs (excluding Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB)
  • Disability Support Pension from Centrelink
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Carer Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Widow Allowance from Centrelink
  • Wife Pension
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special benefit.

Only one of these pensions, benefits or allowances could be selected. If any of the above were selected, the amount received and the period that amount covered were asked.

Respondents were then asked whether they currently received Family Tax Benefit (FTB) as regular payments from the Tax Office, and if so, the amount received and the period that amount covered. FTB is a Australian Government benefit to assist with the cost of raising children that consists of two components:
  • Part A, the basic benefit, which is income assessed
  • Part B, which gives assistance to sole parent families and to two parent families with one main income where one parent chooses to stay at home or to balance some paid work with caring for their children.

Both Part A and Part B were included in this topic.

FTB can be paid as fortnightly payments from the Family Assistance Office, as a lump sum payment from the Family Assistance Office after the end of the financial year, and as a lump sum through the tax system. Recipients of this last system can anticipate the lump sum by asking their employer to take less tax out of their wages during the year. Recipients can also choose to receive some of their entitlement in fortnightly payments and some as a lump sum after the end of the financial year. For the purposes of this question, only FTB income received as regular fortnightly payments was included.

Using a prompt card, respondents were asked whether they currently received any income from the following sources, and if so, the amount received and the period that amount covered:
  • child support or maintenance
  • superannuation/annuity/private pension
  • workers' compensation.

Respondents were then asked to report:
  • the expected profit or loss for the financial year from their own unincorporated business or share in a partnership (excluding wages/salary drawn from own limited liability company)
  • the expected profit or loss for the financial year from rental property
  • expected dividends or interest for the financial year, including dividends from own limited liability business as well as other companies, but excluding bonus share values received with or in lieu of dividends
  • current income from any other source.

Where the respondent was a registered dealer, income from share trading was recorded as business income. In other cases, income from share trading was recorded as 'other regular income'.

Persons who reported income from their own unincorporated business, share in a partnership, or rental property were asked to report the total amount expected to be received from these sources in the current financial year (before tax but after business expenses). 'Don't know' and 'refusal' options were allowed.

Sources of income are classified as follow:
  • wage or salary
  • profit or loss from own unincorporated business or share in partnership
  • any government pension or allowance
  • profit or loss from rental property
  • dividends or interest
  • child support or maintenance
  • superannuation/annuities
  • workers' compensation
  • other cash income.

'Main source of income' and 'Type of government pension or allowance received' are also available for output.

Total cash income at the person level is available as a continuous variable as well as a derived decile version. Deciles are further explained in the section of this chapter entitled 'Household and Family characteristics' and the cut-offs used are available in Appendix 5: Income deciles.

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.

Interpretation

Points to be considered in interpreting for this topic include the following:

    • The approach used in the surveys relies on the selected adult's knowledge of their personal income (NHS only) and the income of other household members, and their willingness to report that information, which they may see as sensitive.
    • Only positive household incomes (commencing at 0) are possible to report from NNPAS and the Core data files. Collection of household income in both NHS and NNPAS only allowed positive incomes to be reported. However, on the NHS data file household income data includes negative incomes due to negative incomes being reportable as part of the personal income data collected from selected persons. These negative incomes were changed to 0 as part of producing the Core data file.
    • Deciles re-calculated using the NHS and NNPAS household income continuous variables will differ to those in the output decile data items due to data from the Core household income variables being used to define consistent cut-offs across AHS surveys.
    • The surveys were run during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 financial years, so respondents will be referring to the financial year related to their date of interview.

Comparability with 2007-08

Data for most common items are considered broadly comparable between the 2011-12 and 2007-08 surveys.

However in 2004-05, personal income data was only collected from persons aged 18 years and over. Care should be taken when making comparisons with the 2004-05 survey and the more recent 2011-12 and 2007-08 NHS surveys that the same age groups are being used.


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