The ABS collects data from a range of sources including surveys, censuses and administrative collections. Microdata provides access to this data in unit record files, which contain detailed information about individuals, businesses and other groups. Within a microdata file, each record or row of the dataset represents the information relating to one of these units.
Microdata facilitates in-depth analysis and research for statistical purposes, to maximise the value of data for informing decisions of importance to Australia. Some typical applications include production of papers, journal articles, books, PhD theses and microsimulation.
Users need to apply and be approved by the ABS before accessing microdata.
TableBuilder is an online tool for creating tables and graphs using very detailed ABS microdata that is automatically confidentialised before the output is provided to users. Starting with an empty table, data variables can be selected for cross-tabulation. There are options to display counts, percentages and relative standard errors in your table or calculate means, medians and quantiles for continuous variables such as income. Users can build, customise, save and export their own tables, graphs and maps in a range of output formats, including CSV, Excel, and SDMX files.
A Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) is a microdata file that has been treated to protect privacy and confidentiality using a range of statistical techniques. Basic CURFs contain fully confidentialised microdata, which can be used in your own environment. Basic CURFs are available on CD-ROM. Expanded CURFs contain more information for each record, and are accessed by logging into the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) or via the DataLab, where checks are made to ensure all outputs are confidential.
Detailed microdata files have been designed specifically for use within the DataLab environment. Detailed microdata are de-identified and confidentialised appropriately within the context of the other security features of the DataLab. They are more detailed and require less confidentialisation than a CURF. Sophisticated analysis can be conducted with detailed microdata files. All unit record data remains in the DataLab environment. All outputs are checked by the ABS before being provided to the researcher. The DataLab can be accessed on-site at ABS offices or as part of the virtual DataLab trial program.
Other Census products
Each Census collects a vast amount of data about our nation. As well as microdata, there are a number of other products available to assist you to use and interpret Census information. These include QuickStats, Community Profiles and DataPacks.