Australian Bureau of Statistics
3107.0.55.006 - Information Paper: Population Concepts, 2008
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/03/2008 First Issue
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Each of these concept is discussed briefly below and in more detail in the following chapters.
The five yearly Census of Population and Housing is the primary source of basic population statistics, providing a total count of the population on census night. Population count may be required on a place of enumeration (de facto) basis as well as on a place of usual residence (de jure) basis (United Nations, 1998a). Importantly the Australian Census can provide population counts on a place of enumeration on census night basis or a place of usual residence basis. It can also provide counts of the working population.
A 'population present' count is the simplest form of population count from a population census, in which people are counted at their place of enumeration (i.e. where they spend census night).
A usual resident count is a count of all usual residents of an area at the time of the census. It counts people where they usually live. The estimated resident population (ERP) is based on census usual residence counts with required adjustments, and is normally higher than the census count at the national level. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who usually live in Australia.
The legal population of Australia consists primarily of people with Australian citizenship. The legal population based on citizenship criteria is likely to be lower than the ERP, as many segments of the ERP, such as permanent residents and long-term visitors from overseas (including students) are not covered in the legal population. However, Australian citizens overseas (who may not be included in ERP) could form part of the legal population.
The concept of predominant centre of economic interest applies to the definition of an economic population. The concept recommends that a person be considered a resident of the economic territory with which he/she has the strongest links. For most cases, this would be approximated using the practical method of residence for one year or more. However, there are some exceptions which are discussed in the paper.
The concept of a working population relates to persons working and allocates them to the geographic area where they work. There is a limitation in the working population in that it does not account for school, tertiary and other students, and other persons not in employment.
The concept of service populations refers to the population accessing the services of a particular area and may include permanent or temporary residents of the area where the service is sought, or there may be regular and irregular daytime visitors (including commuters), or overnight or short-term visitors to the area.
The increasing mobility of the Australian population and use of population for resource distribution has created a growing demand for service population estimates at the local area level e.g. SLA. The ERP alone does not meet all information needs of users, as some services are also provided to persons who are not usual residents of a particular area. In recognition of the rising interest in the service population, various definitions, conceptual clarifications of the service population, and issues associated with them are discussed in this paper.
The paper addresses the different population concepts, however, as noted there are a range of measurement issues. For example, there is no established standard method for determining or estimating the size of a service population of a geographic area or the Australian diaspora. Therefore further research needs to be undertaken into the feasibility of developing frameworks for estimating a service population of geographic areas within Australia and the Australian diaspora.
The ABS is interested in discussing with stakeholders the need for these types of estimates, their application in policy and program formulation, monitoring and decision making, and related matters to help formulate future directions in this statistical field. The ABS would welcome any comments on the matters discussed in this information paper. These may be sent to:
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10
BELCONNEN ACT 2616
Telephone: (02) 6252 6411
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This page last updated 12 March 2008