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Absentee

Definition

An absentee is identified on the census dwelling form as someone who usually lives in a particular dwelling, but has not completed a census individual form there – because the person was elsewhere in New Zealand or overseas on census night. Such a person may have completed a census individual form elsewhere in New Zealand. Included as absentees in the census are children away at boarding school, people away on business or holiday, in hospital, and so on. Excluded are long-term hospital patients and tertiary (including university) students who live away from the dwelling for most of the year.

'Number of absentees' is the total number of absentees for each household.

'Absentee in New Zealand on census night' provides information on whether absentees were elsewhere in New Zealand during the survey reference period or were overseas during the survey reference period.

'Absentee – time away from New Zealand' collects information on how long altogether an absentee, who is overseas on census night, is away from New Zealand.

A 'New Zealand resident temporarily overseas' is an absentee who is overseas and away from New Zealand for less than 12 months.

It should be noted that absentees are only recorded in dwellings where a dwelling form was completed, therefore there are no absentees recorded for unoccupied dwellings.

Where the data comes from

The key questions from which this topic is derived are question 19 (absentee indicator) and question 21 (absentee relationship to reference person) on the dwelling form.

How this data is classified

Census count of absentees

0 No absentees

1 1 Absentee

2 2 Absentees

3 3 Absentees

4 4 Absentees

5 5 Absentees or more

Absentee in New Zealand on census night

1 Absentee in New Zealand on census night

2 Absentee not in New Zealand on census night

7 Response unidentifiable

9 Not stated

Absentee – time away from New Zealand

1 Away from New Zealand for less than 12 months

2 Away from New Zealand for 12 months or more

7 Response unidentifiable

9 Not stated

For further information, refer to the 2013 Census data dictionary.

For background information on classifications and standards, refer to the Classifications and related statistical standards page.

Subject population

The subject population for these variables are:

  • for number of absentees: Individuals who are absent from households in private occupied dwellings (visitor-only private dwellings are excluded)
  • for absentee in New Zealand on census night: all absentees: provides information on whether absentees were in New Zealand or not 
  • for absentee – time away from New Zealand: absentees away from New Zealand on census night.

The subject population is the people, families, households, or dwellings to whom the variable applies.

Non-response and data that could not be classified

Non-response

'Non-response' is when an individual gives no response at all to a census question that was relevant to them. The non-response rate is the percentage of the subject population that was coded to ‘Not stated’.

Non-response rates for 2013:

  • Absentee in New Zealand on census night: 9.4 percent.
  • Absentee – time away from New Zealand: 4.4 percent.

Non-response rates for 2006:

  • Absentee in New Zealand on census night: 7.5 percent.
  • Absentee – time away from New Zealand: 4.0 percent.

Non-response rates for 2001:

  • Absentee in New Zealand on census night: 10.2 percent.
  • Absentee – time away from New Zealand: 4.4 percent.

Not elsewhere included

Non-response and responses that could not be classified or did not provide the type of information asked for are usually grouped together and called 'Not elsewhere included'.

  • 9.5 percent of the subject population for absentee in New Zealand on census night was coded to 'Not elsewhere included' in 2013, compared with 7.5 percent in 2006 and 10.9 percent in 2001.
  • 4.6 percent of the subject population for absentee – time away from New Zealand was coded to 'Not elsewhere included' in 2013, compared with 4.1 percent in 2006 and 5.1 percent in 2001.

Issues to note

  • The number of absentees variable does not have a non-response category because this is a derived variable that is produced after the number of absentees in each dwelling has been determined during processing, after taking various pieces of information into account.

For more information on non-response, refer to the 2013 Census data user guide.

How this data is used

Data from the absentee variables is used:

  • in conjunction with the 'Number of occupants on census night' variable to estimate current populations and forecast future populations. This data is used for a number of public policy decisions on health, welfare, income support, and housing
  • for enumeration purposes, such as working out family and household composition.

Data quality processes

All census data was checked thoroughly during processing and evaluation, to ensure that it met quality standards and is suitable for use. These quality checks included edits.

All data must meet minimum quality standards to make it suitable for use.

Quality level

quality level is assigned to all census variables: foremost, defining, or supplementary.

The absentee variables are defining variables. Defining variables cover key subject populations that are important for policy development, evaluation, or monitoring. These variables are given second priority in terms of quality, time, and resources across all phases of a census.

Mode of collection impacts – online form compared with paper form

The online forms had built-in editing functionality that directed respondents to the appropriate questions and ensured that their responses were valid. As a result of this, data from online forms may be of higher overall quality than data from paper forms. The significance of this will depend on the particular type of analysis being done.

There were differences between how the forms were completed online and on paper for this variable:

  • The online form allowed only one response to be selected for the absentee indicator question (question 19 on the dwelling form). If a further response was selected, the response given previously disappeared. Multiple responses to this question were possible when forms were completed on paper.
  • If respondents marked 'Yes' for the absentee indicator question on the online form, the absentee number (question 20 on the dwelling form) and absentee details (question 21 on the dwelling form) questions were greyed out, so the respondent could not answer them unless they changed their answer to the absentee indicator question.
  • The absentee number question on the online form had a drop-down number box from which a respondent could select a number from one to five. This differed from the paper form, where the respondent could write in any two-digit number (eg 99), even though the absentee details question only had sufficient space for a maximum of five absentees. Form. When forms were completed on paper, it was possible to include more absentees if a continuation form was used.
  • On the online form, the number of absentees for whom the respondent was asked to provide details was determined by the answer given in the absentee number question.

Quality assessment of data and data quality issues for this variable

Overall quality assessment

Moderate: fit for use – with some data quality issues to be aware of. 2013 Census variable quality rating scale gives more detail.

Issues to note

  • Non-response rates for 2013:
    • Absentee in New Zealand on census night – 9.4 percent.
    • Absentee – time away from New Zealand – 4.4 percent.
  • Data on absentees can only be collected where a dwelling form has been completed and indicates the existence of an absentee. There could be a number of absentees that are not included in the data because of missing information.

For more information on non-response, refer to the 2013 Census data user guide.

Comparing this data with previous census data

This data is fully comparable with data from the 2006 and 2001 Censuses. Changes in the data over this time period can be interpreted as real changes because there have been no changes in the way the data has been collected, defined, and classified.

Note that non-response to the question as to whether the absentee was in New Zealand on census night is higher than in 2006.

Comparing this data with data from other sources

Absentee is a variable that is counted for census purposes and there is no other specific source of this information. However, international travel and migration data will give information about short-term departures from New Zealand.

Further information about this data

All percentages in census publications have been calculated using 'Total stated' as the denominator.

When using this data, be aware of the following:

  • The relationship of absentees to the reference person is used during census processing to allocate codes to absentees if the reference person has indicated their relationship to the absentee (for example, partner, parent, child). This is called family coding and is used to derive household and family variables, such as family type and household composition.
  • The dwelling form allows for a maximum of five absentees to be recorded.

Contact our Information Centre for further information about using this variable.

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