2001 Census (2003 boundaries)


Current Issues Brief Index

Current Issues Brief no.1 2004–05

Socio-economic indexes for electoral divisions: 2001 Census (2003 boundaries)

Gerard Newman and Andrew Kopras
Statistics Section
12 July 2004

Contents

Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage
Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage
Index of Economic Resources
Index of Education and Occupation

Endnotes
Appendix

List of Tables
Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage
Ranked by the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage
Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage
Ranked by the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage
Index of Economic Resources
Ranked by the Index of Economic Resources
Index of Education and Occupation
Ranked by the Index of Education and Occupation

List of Maps
Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage
Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage
Index of Economic Resources
Index of Education and Occupation

Maps are available in hard copy (Senators and Members only) or PDF version.

Introduction

This paper provides data on four summary indexes, derived from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, that measure different aspects of socioeconomic conditions for Commonwealth electoral divisions. It updates a paper published earlier this year to take account of the effects of the 2002 03 redistributions.(1)

The five-yearly censuses of population conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collect data on a broad range of social and economic aspects of the Australian population. Each household is required to answer nearly fifty questions, covering such diverse topics as birthplace, occupation, educational qualifications, methods of travel to work and ownership of dwellings. While it is possible to compare electoral divisions on the basis of each census variable, it is often more useful to compare divisions on the basis of a summary of related variables. The indexes shown in this paper have been derived by the ABS for this purpose. A paper comparing electoral divisions on the basis of a number of individual census variables has been published previously by the Parliamentary Library.(2)

This paper shows each electoral division ranked on the basis of each index, together with a description of each index and some notable features of the rankings. It has been produced from data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for Census Collection Districts (CCD) and aggregated to Commonwealth electoral divisions (CED) by taking the weighted average (based on Census population figures) of the CED. All indexes have been constructed so that relatively disadvantaged areas have low index values. A more detailed explanation of the indexes is available from an Information Paper published by the ABS.(3)

The electoral division boundaries used in this paper follow the 2002 03 redistributions in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Boundaries for other states and territories are those applicable at the 2001 election.(4)

Data for each index is presented in two tables. The first table shows each electoral division in alphabetical order and the second shows each electoral division ranked by the index (divisions are ranked from lowest to highest). The political party notionally holding the electoral division after the 2002 03 redistributions is shown on each table. The paper also includes maps of electoral divisions for each index.

Description of the indexes

There are four indexes shown in this paper. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socioeconomic conditions in the electoral divisions. The indexes have been obtained by summarising the information from a variety of social and economic variables. While there are similarities in the rankings of the electoral divisions, each index uses a different set of underlying variables.

The four indexes are:

  • Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage
  • Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage
  • Index of Economic Resources
  • Index of Education and Occupation.

All the indexes (including the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage) have been constructed so that relatively advantaged areas have high index values. For the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage, this means that relatively disadvantaged areas have low index numbers. To enable easy recognition of high and low scores, the index scores have been standardised to have a mean of 1000 across all collection districts in Australia. See the Appendix to this paper for a detailed list of the variables included in each index.

The Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage includes variables that measure relative social and economic well-being. Indicators included are: income, occupation, employment status, educational qualification, internet usage and size of dwelling. A higher score on this index means that an area has a relatively high proportion of people with high incomes, professional occupations and tertiary qualifications. It also means that an area has a low proportion of people with low incomes, unskilled occupations and no education qualifications. Conversely, a lower score on this index means that an area has a relatively high proportion of people with these characteristics and a low proportion of people with high incomes, professional occupations and tertiary education qualifications.

As the name implies, the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage is derived from attributes that indicate relative social and economic hardship. Variables included are low income, low educational attainment, unskilled occupations, high unemployment, one-parent families, renting households and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. To maintain consistency with the other indexes, the Index of Socio-Economic Disadvantage has been inverted so that advantaged electoral divisions have a high index score and disadvantaged divisions have a low score. Thus a high score on this index means that an area has relatively fewer people with the above attributes, while a low score indicates relatively more people with these attributes. It is important to understand that a high score here reflects a lack of disadvantage rather than high advantage.

The Index of Economic Resources reflects the profile of the economic resources of families in electoral divisions. The indicators summarised in this index reflect the income and expenditure of families. Variables included are: mortgage repayments, rental payments, income and size of dwelling. A high score on this index means that an area has a higher proportion of people with high incomes, large mortgage payments, large rental payments and large dwelling size, while a low score indicates a lower proportion of people with these characteristics.

The Index of Education and Occupation is designed to reflect the educational and occupational structure of the population. Education variables included in the index are the level of educational qualification attained or whether further study is being undertaken. Occupational variables include the major occupation groups and the unemployed. An area with a high score on this index would have a high concentration of people with higher educational qualifications or undertaking further study and persons employed in higher skilled occupations. A low score indicates a concentration of people with low education attainment, low occupation skills or unemployed persons.

Data Limitations

The indexes contained in this paper are subject to a number of limitations which should be borne in mind when the indexes are used to compare electoral divisions.

Firstly, the indexes include only some of the social and economic variables for which data was collected in the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. There are a number of social and economic indicators, such as wealth, savings, health, access to infrastructure, that affect the well-being of the population but are not collected in the census and are therefore not included in the indexes. In addition, the indexes include only a limited number of the available census variables. Some notable exclusions from the indexes are age, country of birth, religion and hours of work.

Secondly, the indexes which have been produced depend upon the variables that have been included and the relative weights attached to those variables. The inclusion of a different range of variables or a different weighting pattern would result in a different index score. The indexes included in this paper are only four of the many indexes that could have been produced using census data.

In addition to the above conceptual limitations in the indexes, there are a number of technical limitations. Non-response to individual census items may affect the accuracy of the indexes if there is a socioeconomic bias to non-response. Persons in non-private dwellings (e.g. boarding houses, etc.) are under-represented in the indexes as the variables pertaining to families and dwellings include only occupied private dwellings. The census results are based on place of enumeration rather than place of usual residence, thus holiday resort areas (e.g. Gold Coast) may be affected.

Other aspects of the indexes that should be borne in mind when comparing the indexes for different electoral divisions are that:

  • The indexes are ordinal measures and not interval measures , i.e. the indexes can be used to order electoral divisions into a ranked order but cannot be used to show that one division is twice as well-off if its index score is twice that of another division.
  • The indexes reflect the socioeconomic well-being of an electoral division rather than of individuals. Because all people in an electoral division are not identical, the index scores do not apply to individuals but rather the way people are summed together for the area.
  • The degree of heterogeneity within a collection district influences the index score of that collection district and hence the electoral division; the more homogeneous collection districts tend towards the extreme index scores.
  • Partly because of the above, the interpretation of the index is more straightforward for electoral divisions that have extreme values. For example, it is usually easy to see why an electoral division with a high index score has that status, but it is more difficult to draw comparisons between electoral divisions with mid-ranked scores.

Highlights

The following section provides comment on the main features of each index. Because of the similar variables used to construct each index there are certain similarities in the rankings of electoral divisions for the various indexes. For instance, the divisions of Bradfield and North Sydney are ranked highest on each index while the divisions of Fowler and Wakefield are the two lowest-ranked divisions for two out of the four indexes. A number of divisions in the north shore area of Sydney and in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne appear in the top twenty rankings for each index. Similarly a number of rural and outer-metropolitan divisions appear in the bottom twenty rankings for all indexes.

Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage

This index measures the relative social and economic well-being of the area. It combines attributes of relative advantage (high incomes, skilled workforce, etc.) with attributes of relative disadvantage (low incomes, unskilled workforce, etc.). The electoral division with the highest index score is the Sydney north shore division of Bradfield, while the division with the lowest score is the western Sydney division of Fowler. The median divisions (index score where there are an equal number of divisions above and below that score) are the southern New South Wales division of Hume and the inner-Melbourne division of Gellibrand.

Most of the twenty highest-ranked divisions are located on the north shore of Sydney (Bradfield, North Sydney, Warringah, Berowra, Mackellar and Bennelong) and in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne (Kooyong, Higgins, Goldstein and Menzies). Other divisions to feature in the top twenty are the traditionally well-off areas of Brisbane (Ryan) and Perth (Curtin) and the two ACT divisions (Canberra and Fraser). The increasing gentrification of inner-city areas is illustrated by the high ranking of inner-city divisions of Melbourne Ports, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. No South Australian or Tasmanian divisions feature in the top twenty. Fourteen of the top twenty divisions are held by the Liberal Party while the rest are held by the Labor Party.

Divisions with a low score are typically either outer-suburban or rural. Of the twenty divisions with the lowest score, six are outer-suburban (Fowler and Chifley in Sydney, Oxley and Longman in Brisbane and Wakefield in Adelaide and Brand in Perth) and thirteen are rural (Cowper, Page, Lyne, Gwydir, Paterson and Parkes in New South Wales, Wide Bay, Hinkler and Blair in Queensland, Grey and Barker in South Australia and Braddon and Lyons in Tasmania). Only one inner-city division features in the bottom twenty (Port Adelaide). Thirteen of the twenty lowest-ranked divisions are held by the Coalition while seven are held by the Labor Party.

Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage

This index measures the relative social and economic hardship in an area and to a certain extent displays a similar pattern to the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage although a high score reflects a lack of disadvantage rather than high advantage. To maintain consistency with the other indexes, the higher an area s index value for the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage, the less disadvantaged that area is compared to other areas. The electoral division with the highest score is Bradfield while the division with the lowest score is the western Sydney division of Fowler. The median divisions are the Perth divisions Canning and Stirling.

As with the Index of Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage, most of the twenty highest-ranked divisions are located on the north shore of Sydney (Bradfield, North Sydney, Warringah, Berowra, Mackellar and Bennelong) or in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne (Kooyong, Higgins, Goldstein and Menzies). Two southern Sydney divisions (Hughes and Cook), together with three Perth divisions (Curtin, Tangney and Moore) also feature in the top twenty divisions. All but four of the top twenty divisions are held by the Liberal Party, the exceptions being the two Labor Party-held divisions in the ACT (Canberra and Fraser) and Melbourne Ports and Jagajaga in Melbourne.

Both inner-metropolitan and outer-metropolitan divisions feature prominently in the lower-ranked divisions, reflecting the lower incomes, low education attainment, high unemployment and unskilled occupations in those areas. Of the twenty lowest-ranked divisions, five are inner-metropolitan divisions (Reid, Blaxland and Watson in Sydney, Gellibrand in Melbourne and Port Adelaide), while eight are outer-metropolitan divisions (Chifley, Fowler, Werriwa and Prospect in Sydney, the new division of Gorton in Melbourne, Oxley and Rankin in Brisbane and Wakefield in Adelaide). Seven rural divisions are also included in the twenty lowest-ranked divisions (Page, Gwydir and Cowper in New South Wales, Wide Bay in Queensland, Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, Braddon in Tasmania and Lingiari in the Northern Territory). All but five of the twenty lowest-ranked divisions are held by the Labor Party, three of the remaining are held by the National Party and one is held by the Liberal Party.

An indication of the lack of homogeneity within a particular electoral division can be obtained by comparing the relative positions on the rankings between the Index of Advantage/Disadvantage and the Index of Disadvantage. For example, if an electoral division has a high proportion of people who are relatively well-off and a high proportion of people who are not so well-off, this will be reflected in a relatively high ranking on the Index of Advantage/Disadvantage and a relatively low ranking on the Index of Disadvantage. By this measure the two least homogenous divisions are the remote divisions of Lingiari in the Northern Territory and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Lingiari is ranked just under the median (73rd) on the Index of Advantage/Disadvantage and is ranked the second lowest division on the Index of Disadvantage. Kalgoorlie is ranked just above the median (79th) on the Index of Advantage/Disadvantage yet is ranked in the lowest quintile (20th) on the Index of Disadvantage. The inner metropolitan divisions of Watson in Sydney and Gellibrand and Melbourne display a similar pattern.

A number of rural divisions (Gippsland, Mallee and Wannon) exhibit the opposite pattern, i.e. ranked lower on the Index of Advantage/Disadvantage than on the Index of Disadvantage. This indicates a relatively low proportion of people who are advantaged and a relatively low proportion of people who are disadvantaged.

Index of Economic Resources

This index measures the economic resources or income and expenditure patterns of families. The electoral division with the highest index score is North Sydney, while the division with the lowest score is the Queensland rural division of Wide Bay. The median divisions are Hume and Perth.

As with the Index of Advantage/Disadvantage and the Index of Disadvantage, the top twenty places in the rankings for this index are dominated by divisions located in the well-off suburbs in the capital cities, although neither Adelaide nor Hobart divisions are included in the top twenty. Of the top twenty divisions, twelve are in Sydney, reflecting the high incomes, rents and mortgages in that city. Fifteen of the top twenty divisions are held by the Liberal Party, the remaining five are held by the Labor Party.

At the lower end of the rankings, rural divisions predominate, reflecting low family incomes and low rental and mortgage payments in rural Australia. Seven of the twenty lowest-ranked divisions are held by the Labor Party. The preponderance of rural divisions at the lower end of the rankings is further emphasised by the fact that the National Party holds no divisions with a ranking over 43.

Index of Education and Occupation

The Index of Education and Occupation is designed to reflect the educational and occupational structure of the population. Once again the highest-ranked divisions are North Sydney and Bradfield, and the lowest-ranked divisions are Wakefield and Fowler. The median divisions are Bowman in Queensland and Franklin in Tasmania.

Once again the top twenty places in the rankings for this index are dominated by divisions located on the north shore of Sydney and in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Given the nature of the index, it is not surprising to find that a number of divisions with or near tertiary education institutions rank high on this index. The divisions of Grayndler (University of Sydney), Adelaide (University of Adelaide) and Kingsford Smith (University of NSW) are ranked much higher on this index than the other indexes. Given the more diverse spread of divisions in the top twenty, it is not surprising to find that the political complexion is also more evenly spread. Of the top twenty divisions, the Liberal Party holds twelve, while the Labor Party holds eight.

Rural and outer-metropolitan divisions predominate at the bottom end of the rankings, reflecting the lack of tertiary education institutions and professional occupational groups in those areas. Out of the twenty divisions at the lower end of the rankings, the Labor Party holds thirteen divisions.

Endnotes

1.       G. Newman and A. Kopras, Socioeconomic indexes for electoral divisions: 2001 Census , Current Issues Brief, No. 6, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2003 04.

2.       A. Kopras, Electorate Rankings: Census 2001 (2003 boundaries) , Research Paper No. 1, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2004 05.

3.       Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Area, Australia, 2001, Information Paper, Cat. No. 2039.0 ABS, Canberra, 2003.

4.       For a description of the 2002 03 redistributions, see: G Newman and A Kopras, 2002 03 Redistribution of Commonwealth electoral divisions , Current Issues Brief, No. 13, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2003 04.

Appendix

This Appendix lists the census variables included in each index. The list shows the variable together with variables weight to indicate the contribution of each variable to the index.

Index of Advantage/Disadvantage

% Persons aged 15 years and over with degree or higher (0.24)

% Couple families with dependent child(ren) only with annual income greater than $77,999 (0.24)

% Couple families with no children with annual income greater than $77,999 (0.23)

% Employed males classified as Professionals (0.23)

% Persons aged 15 years or over having an advanced diploma or diploma qualification (0.21)

% Employed females classified as Professionals (0.21)

% Single-person households with annual income greater than $36,399 (0.20)

% Persons using Internet at home (0.19)

% Couple families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income greater than $103,999 (0.18)

% Single-parent families with dependent child(ren) only with annual income greater than $36,399 (0.17)

% Persons aged 15 years and over at university or other tertiary institution (0.15)

% Employed males classified as Associate Professionals (0.14)

% Single-parent families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income greater than $62,399 (0.13)

% Employed females classified as Advanced Clerical & Service Workers (0.10)

% Dwellings with four or more bedrooms (0.08)

% Single-parent families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income less than $26,000 ( 0.10)

% Employed females classified as Elementary Clerical, Sales & Service Workers ( 0.10)

% Employed males classified as Tradespersons ( 0.13)

% Employed females classified as Intermediate Production & Transport Workers ( 0.13)

% Single-parent families with dependent offspring only ( 0.13)

% Couple families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income less than $52,000 (0.15)

% Females (in labour force) unemployed ( 0.16)

% Males (in labour force) unemployed ( 0.16)

% Single-person households with annual income less than $15,600 ( 0.18)

% Employed males classified as Intermediate Production and Transport Workers ( 0.19)

% Employed males classified as Labourers & Related Workers ( 0.19)

% Employed females classified as Labourers & Related Workers ( 0.19)

% Couple families with dependent child(ren) only with annual income less than $36,400 ( 0.20)

% Couple-only families with annual income less than $20,800 ( 0.20)

% Persons aged 15 years and over with highest level of schooling completed being Year 11 or below ( 0.24)

% Persons aged 15 years and over with no qualifications ( 0.25)

Index of Economic Resources

% Couple families with dependent child(ren) only with annual income greater than $77,999 (0.33)

% Couple families with no children with annual income greater than $77,999 (0.32)

% Single-person households with annual income greater than $36,399 (0.30)

% Households paying rent greater than $225 per week (0.30)

% Households paying mortgage greater than $1,360 per month (0.29)

% Couple families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income greater than $103,999 (0.27)

% Single-parent families with dependent child(ren) only with annual income greater than $36,399 (0.24)

% Single-parent families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income greater than $62,399 (0.20)

% Dwellings with four or more bedrooms (0.13)

% Single-parent families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income less than $26,000 ( 0.16)

% Households paying rent less than $88 per week ( 0.19)

% Couple families with dependents and non-dependents or with non-dependents only with annual income less than $52,000 ( 0.23)

% Single-person households with annual income less than $15,600 ( 0.27)

% Couple-only families with annual income less than $20,800 ( 0.28)

% Couple families with dependent child(ren) only with annual income less than $36,400 ( 0.28)

Index of Education and Occupation

% Persons aged 15 years and over with degree or higher (0.33)

% Employed males classified as Professionals (0.31)

% Employed females classified as Professionals (0.29)

% Persons aged 15 years or over having an advanced diploma or diploma qualification (0.28)

% Persons aged 15 years and over at university or other tertiary institution (0.21)

% Employed males classified as Associate Professionals (0.18)

% Employed males classified as Advanced Clerical & Service Workers (0.12)

% Employed females classified as Elementary Clerical, Sales & Service Workers ( 0.14)

% Males (in labour force) unemployed ( 0.17)

% Females (in labour force) unemployed ( 0.18)

% Employed females classified as Intermediate Production & Transport Workers ( 0.18)

% Employed males classified as Tradespersons ( 0.19)

% Employed males classified as Labourers & Related Workers ( 0.24)

% Employed females classified as Labourers & Related Workers ( 0.25)

% Employed males classified as Intermediate Production & Transport Workers ( 0.26)

% Persons aged 15 years and over with highest level of schooling completed being Year 11 or below ( 0.32)

% Persons aged 15 years and over with no qualifications ( 0.32)

Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage

% Persons aged 15 years and over with no qualifications (0.31)

% Families with offspring having parental income less than $15,600 (0.29)

% Females (in labour force) unemployed (0.27)

% Males (in labour force) unemployed (0.27)

% Employed males classified as Labourer & Related Workers (0.27)

% Employed females classified as Labourer & Related Workers (0.27)

% One-parent families with dependent offspring only (0.25)

% Persons aged 15 years and over who left school at or under 15 years of age (0.25)

% Employed males classified as Intermediate Production and Transport Workers (0.24)

% Families with income less than $15,600 (0.23)

% Households renting (government authority) (0.22)

% Persons aged 15 years and over separated or divorced (0.19)

% Dwellings with no motor cars at dwelling (0.19)

% Employed females classified as Intermediate Production & Transport Workers (0.19)

% Persons aged 15 years and over who did not go to school (0.18)

% Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders (0.18)

% Lacking fluency in English (0.15)

% Employed females classified as Elementary Clerical, Sales & Service Workers (0.13)

% Occupied private dwellings with two or more families (0.13)

% Employed males classified as Tradespersons (0.11)

For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to Members of Parliament.


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