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Definitions and information about the data

Definitions

Adult: a person aged 15 years or over.

Census usually resident population count: a count of all people who usually live in, and were present in, New Zealand on census night.

Family: a familial relationship is one in which a person is related to another person by birth/biology, or by registered marriage or civil union, de facto union, fostering or adoption. Families include couples with child(ren), couples without child(ren), and one parent with child(ren).

Family income: calculated by adding together the total personal income of each member of the family aged 15 years and over who stated their income and was at home on census night. If someone in the family did not answer the income question, or they were absent on census night, and the combined total income of the people who did answer did not reach $150,001 ($100,001 or more in the 2001 and 2006 Censuses) then family income was set to ‘not stated’. Family income relates to income from all sources in the 12 months ending 31 March 2001, 31 March 2006, and 31 March 2013.

Family income source: a family was counted as receiving a source of income if one or more family members aged 15 years and over who were at home on census night reported receiving that source of income at any time in the 12 months ending 6 March 2001, 7 March 2006, and 5 March 2013. Many families will have received income from more than one source during the year. The main source of income cannot be identified.

Household: either one person who usually resides alone, or two or more people who usually reside together and share facilities (such as for eating, cooking, or a living area; and bathroom and toilet) in a private dwelling.

Household Economic Survey (HES): conducted every three years, HES collects information on household expenditure and income, and demographic information. The HES collects expenditure information, including purchases of food, clothing, and household items. An expenditure diary is used to collect some of this detailed information in addition to the questionnaire. The HES survey sample contains about 5,000 private households. Households are sampled from rural and urban areas throughout New Zealand on a statistically representative basis, and information is obtained for each household member.

Household income: calculated by adding together the total personal income of each member of the household aged 15 years and over who stated their income and was at home on census night. If someone in the household did not answer the income question, or they were absent on census night, and the combined total income of the people who did answer did not reach $150,001 ($100,001 or more in the 2001 and 2006 Censuses) then household income was set to ‘not stated’. Household income relates to income from all sources in the 12 months ending 31 March 2001, 31 March 2006, and 31 March 2013.

Household income source: a household was counted as receiving a source of income if one or more household members aged 15 years and over who were at home on census night reported receiving that source of income. Household members' sources of income relate to the 12 months ending 6 March 2001, 7 March 2006, and 5 March 2013. Many households will have received income from more than one source during the year. The main source of income cannot be identified.

Median income: half receive more and half receive less than this amount. The median is calculated on the census usually resident population count aged 15 years and over.

Nominal income: income that is unadjusted for the effects of inflation. This is the income data collected in the 2013 Census. Real median income, on the other hand, has been adjusted for inflation.

Other government transfers: comprises unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, domestic purposes benefit, invalids benefit, student allowance, and other government benefits, payments, or pensions. It does not include NZ superannuation or veterans pension.

Other multi-person households: groups of related or unrelated people living together, such as unrelated people 'flatting' together, or siblings living together.

Sources of personal income: people were asked to record their sources of income at any time during the year ending 6 March 2001, 7 March 2006, and 5 March 2013. Many people recorded more than one source of income and were counted in each category they recorded, therefore totals may add up to more than 100 percent. For people who received income from more than one source, the main source of income cannot be identified.

Total personal income: income before the deduction of income tax, levies, or withholding payments, and includes such items as income sourced from wages and salaries, self-employed income, property and rental income, dividends and investments, social insurance, superannuation, government assistance schemes, and private transfers such as child support.

It does not include social transfers in kind such as public education or government subsidised health care services. Also excluded are reimbursement of expenses, money received from borrowing, contingent income and unrealised income. Irregular payments such as lump sum inheritance payments are excluded.

Total personal income received is the before-tax income of a person in the 12 months ending 31 March 2001, 31 March 2006, and 31 March 2013. The information is collected as income bands rather than in actual dollars.

Information about the data

Sources of income

In the 2013 Census, people were asked to record their sources of income "…in the 12 months ending today" (5 March 2013). Many people stated more than one source of income and were counted in each category they stated, therefore percentages will not add to 100. For those classified as receiving 'Other government transfers', a person was counted only once if they had received income from multiple sources of other government transfers.

Our overall quality assessment of sources of income data was:

  • High: fit for use – with minor data quality issues only.

Total income

Be cautious when interpreting income data, because of the relatively high percentage in the ‘not stated’ category. Our overall quality assessment of total income data was:

  • Moderate: fit for use – with some data quality issues to be aware of.

Because of high non-response rates, total household income is considered:

  • Poor: fit for use – but use with caution due to some significant data quality issues.

The 2013 Census variable quality rating scale gives more detail.

High non-response rates can lead to bias in the data. This bias affects the aggregates and the distribution with the proportion of people in low-income bands being under-counted. The bias means the data is not fit for use for certain purposes. The 2013 Census information by variable has more data-quality information.

Where medians are provided, use them with caution so as not to give an impression that they are precise figures – they are not. Medians are calculated for those that stated an income. Census only outputs median incomes to the nearest $100.

The reference periods are different for income variables and for other variables that may be cross-tabulated with income variables. For example:

  • 'occupation' relates to the week before census day
  • 'of personal income' relates to the previous 12 months ending on census day
  • 'total personal income' relates to the 12 months ending on 31 March 2013.

You can’t assume, for example, that someone employed as a labourer in the previous week has been a labourer all year and received only wage and salary income.

Ethnic group responses

People could give more than one response on their individual census form for their ethnic group. Where a person reported more than one ethnic group, they were counted in each applicable group. Be cautious when analysing income data by ethnic group, because of the high non-response rate of certain ethnic groups. The non-response rate was highest for Pacific peoples and lowest for European.

While differences exist between median personal incomes for the major ethnic groups, part of this difference may be explained by differences in median age between these groups. Use caution when interpreting income data by ethnicity.

Comparability with past censuses

Because the 2011 Census was cancelled after the Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011, the gap between this census and the last one is seven years. The change in the data between 2006 and 2013 may be greater than in the usual five-year gap between censuses. Be careful when comparing trends.

In 2013, data was collected for the income categories $50,001–$60,000 and $60,001–$70,000, but for comparability with 2001 and 2006 these have been merged. Similarly, in 2013, data was collected for the income categories $100,001–$150,000 and $150,001 or more, but for comparability with 2001 and 2006 these have been merged.

Non-response rates were lower in 2013 because we have allocated people who selected 'no source of income', but did not answer the total income question, to the ‘zero income’ category. This edit was not carried out in previous years. This change in processing may partly explain increases in the proportion of people reporting zero income in 2013. The increase in the number of people reporting zero income in 2013 will decrease the overall median slightly, relative to the median that would be reported without this new edit.

The 2013 Census information by variable has more information on data quality and comparability over time.

Comparing this data with data from other sources

Census is the only information source that provides comprehensive information for small areas and small populations. However, alternative sources of information are available that are more suited to examining annual measures of household and personal income in New Zealand and are used for official income statistics:

  • Household Economic Survey (HES)
  • New Zealand Income Survey (NZIS)
  • Linked Employer-Employee Database (LEED)
  • Quarterly Employment Survey (QES)
  • New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS).

The User guide for wage and income measures sets out each measure's design and purpose.

Data from these alternative sources may show differences from census data for several reasons. These could be due to differences in scope, coverage, non-response rates, data being collected at different periods of time, alternative sources being sample surveys and as such subject to sampling errors, or differences in question wordings and method of delivery (self-administered versus interviewer-administered). Familiarise yourself with the strengths and limitations of individual data sources before comparing with census data.

Calculation of percentages

Unless otherwise stated, all percentages and ratios in this report exclude responses that cannot be classified (eg 'not stated', 'response unidentifiable', 'response outside scope').

Confidentiality

The data in this report has been randomly rounded to protect confidentiality. Individual figures may not add up to totals, and values for the same data may vary in different tables, text, graphs, and maps.

Further information on income and other variables reported in this QuickStat is available from 2013 Census information by variable.

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