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Appendix 1: Additional data sources

The census is just one of a range of data sources that provide information on households, dwellings, and individuals in New Zealand. We run various household surveys, as do other public and private-sector organisations. Generally, these surveys rely on information from the census to target their sample selection to areas of interest, usually using topics such as socio-economic status, income, employment, age, and ethnicity. They also adjust their survey results to census benchmarks; in particular, age, sex, and ethnicity.

This section describes some other survey data sources available and the type of information requirements they can meet. These additional data sources can complement the information provided by the census and may offer users other ways of meeting data needs. In addition to these sources, administrative data has become a major source of information, especially for more specialist research via the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). Our Census Transformation project has built up a broad base of knowledge and research about the quality and usefulness of administrative data.

Household sample surveys

Household surveys usually provide a portrait of a sample at a precise point in time, or a series of ‘snapshots’. We run various household surveys quarterly or annually that can provide more up-to-date information than is available in the census. These surveys can also collect data on more complex topics or in more detail than the census because they are usually administered by skilled interviewers and the topics they include can focus on a particular content area in much more detail.

A shortcoming of sample surveys is that the sample size can limit the usefulness of the data for small areas or small groups. For example, the Household Labour Force Survey provides very good estimates of unemployment rates at a national level, but is unable to give reliable estimates for small towns or other smaller population groups such as iwi.

We’ve run many post-censal surveys to add depth to the information collected in the census. These typically focus on a relatively small or dispersed population, and the sample for the survey is drawn using topics collected in the census. Using the census to draw the sample greatly reduces the need for time-consuming and expensive screening for the target population. The use of trained interviewers on post-censal surveys allows more complex questions to be included than in the main census questionnaire.

Longitudinal data sources

A longitudinal data source contains information on the same individuals at several points over time, allowing life changes and outcomes following events or interventions to be more robustly analysed. Major developments in longitudinal data have come about in recent years with the development of the IDI at Stats NZ.

Traditional longitudinal surveys such as the Survey of Family, Income, and Employment (SoFIE) require repeated follow-up over a period of years by interviewers and rely on respondents remaining willing to participate in the survey. In contrast, the IDI uses administrative data that is collected and updated on a regular basis by various government departments and agencies as a usual part of operations. The IDI integrates data from many sources and can be used for many different types of study, including longitudinal analysis.

The longitudinal census is another important source of longitudinal data in New Zealand. It connects respondents over a series of census cycles and aims to understand longer-term trends and life paths.

Administrative data sources

Most government agencies collect large amounts of data about the people they interact with or serve. For instance, Inland Revenue collects and compiles tax data and the Ministry of Health stores records of hospital visits and medical treatments. Generally, these sources have very good coverage of the people who interact with the agencies, and can contain a wealth of information, especially on the operations of the department and the various services or interactions people have with them.

We’ve carried out a large amount of research over the last few years to understand the quality of these administrative data sources and their potential to meet user needs. Most of this work has occurred in the IDI and Census Transformation projects. The Census Transformation research paper An initial investigation into the potential for administrative data to provide census long-form information provided an early overview of the types of user needs that might be met using administrative data.

Administrative data strengths and weaknesses

Census topics that have been assessed as having existing administrative data that is ‘likely’ to meet some of the established user needs include work, income, ethnicity and culture, and education and training.

See Census transformation – research papers for more details on the administrative data available and comparisons with the census and other data sources.

Strengths

By making use of this data, we can avoid the costly collection and capture stages and reduce respondent burden. Administrative data also enables users to have information on complex topics that would not easily be collected in a survey environment; for example, migration records; births, deaths, and marriages registrations; and property ownership registers.

Weaknesses

However, administrative data has some major shortcomings:

  • Incomplete coverage. It only applies to the population of interest and no information is available on those that don’t enter the system. For example, information from ACC includes only those people currently receiving payments, and may therefore exclude some people who have had accidents.
  • A lack of useful contextual data. Tax records, for example, have no information about ethnic groups or family relationships.
  • Classifications, definitions, and concepts may not be consistent over time or across data sources.

Alternative data sources – surveys and derived demographic series

Table 3 lists the main additional data sources for those topics included since the 2001 Census.

Table 3 
Main additional data sources for topics included since the 2001 Census

Broad topic area  Data source  Organisation  Frequency 
Population structure  National Population Estimates  Stats NZ  Quarterly &
annual 
Subnational Population Estimates   Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
National Population Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Subnational Population Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Māori Population Estimates  Stats NZ  Quarterly 
National Ethnic Population Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Subnational Ethnic Population Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly
Location  Subnational Population Estimates  Stats NZ  Annual 
Subnational Population Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Ethnicity and culture  Te Kupenga   Stats NZ  10 yearly 
NZ General Social Survey  Stats NZ  2 yearly 
National Ethnic Population Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Subnational Ethnic Population Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Education and training  Survey of Adult Skills  Ministry of Education  5 yearly
NZ Disability Survey   Stats NZ  10 yearly 
Work  Household Labour Force Survey  Stats NZ  Quarterly 
NZ General Social Survey   Stats NZ 3 yearly 
NZ Disability Survey  Stats NZ  10 yearly 
National Labour Force Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Income  Household Economic Survey  Stats NZ  Annual 
Household Labour Force Survey (Income Supplement)  Stats NZ  Annual  
Families and households  National Family and Household Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly 
Subnational Family and Household Projections  Stats NZ  2–3 yearly
Housing  Dwelling and Household Estimates  Stats NZ  Quarterly 
Household Economic Survey (Expenditure Supplement)  Stats NZ 3 yearly 
NZ General Social Survey  Stats NZ  2 yearly 
NZ Disability Survey  Stats NZ  10 yearly 
Transport  NZ Household Travel Survey  Ministry of Transport  Continuous 
NZ Disability Survey  Stats NZ  10 yearly 
Health  New Zealand Health Survey   Ministry of Health  Continuous 
NZ General Social Survey   Stats NZ  2 yearly 

Household Economic Survey (HES)

Lead agency

Stats NZ

Description

The HES provides a comprehensive range of information on individual and household income, housing costs, and material living standards.

Frequency

An income and housing costs component is administered annually in the survey. Two regular supplements rotate on three-year cycles – one is on household expenditure and the other on assets and liabilities (savings).

Coverage

Individuals aged 15 years and over living in private dwellings

Sample

Approximately 5,000 households (increased to 5,500 for HES Expenditure and 8,000 for HES Savings)

Links

Household Economic Survey and Household Economic Survey (Income) resource

Household Economic Survey (HES) – information releases 

Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS)

Lead agency

Stats NZ

Description

The HLFS provides the official measure of employment and unemployment in New Zealand. It delivers a wide range of information on the characteristics of the labour force. Supplementary/rotating content is collected on related topics including income (annual), childcare (4 yearly), working life (4 yearly), education and training (10 yearly), volunteer work (2 yearly), employment transitions (4 yearly), redundancies (4 yearly), skill-related underemployment (4 yearly), and types of self-employment (2 yearly).

Frequency

Quarterly

Coverage

Individuals aged 15 years and over living in private dwellings

Sample

Approximately 15,000 households and 31,000 individuals each quarter.

Link

Household Labour Force Survey – information releases 

New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS)

Lead agency

Stats NZ

Description

The NZGSS provides information on the well-being of New Zealanders. It covers a wide range of social and economic outcomes. Data gathered include objective information about circumstances such as labour force status, as well as personal self-assessments of different aspects of people’s lives. By measuring multiple aspects of individual’s lives at one point in time, the survey helps understand the inter-relationships of outcomes across different aspects of life. The survey includes rotating supplements that enable the survey to collect more in-depth information on topics of interest, such as social networks and support, civic and cultural participation, housing and the physical environment, and time use.

Frequency

2 yearly

Coverage

Individuals aged 15 years and over living in private dwellings

Sample

8,000

Link

Well-being statistics – information releases 

Te Kupenga

Lead agency

Stats NZ

Description

Te Kupenga is a survey of Māori well-being. It collects information on a wide range of topics to give an overall picture of the social, cultural, and economic well-being of Māori in New Zealand. The survey also provides important information on the health of the Māori language.

Frequency

2013 and 2018. Every 10 years from 2018.

Coverage

Māori aged 15 years and over living in private dwellings

Sample

Approximately 5,500

Link

Te Kupenga 

New Zealand Disability Survey

Lead agency

Stats NZ

Description

The New Zealand Disability Survey provides information on disabled children and adults in New Zealand. It covers the nature and cause of impairments, the type of support needed, and the social and economic outcomes of disabled people and how these compare with non-disabled people.

Frequency

1996, 2001, 2006, 2013. Every 10 years from 2013.

Coverage

Disabled and non-disabled adults and children living in private dwellings and group homes with fewer than five people, and disabled adults living in residential care facilities.

Sample

23,000 adults and children in private dwellings, and 864 individuals from 177 residential facilities in 2013.

Link

Disability Survey: 2013 – Data quality 

New Zealand Health Survey

Lead agency

Ministry of Health

Description

The New Zealand Health Survey provides information about the health of New Zealanders. It includes information on health behaviours, health status, and access to health services. The survey has a flexible programme of rotating modules covering topics such as patient experience, problem gambling, discrimination, tobacco use, drug use, disability status, housing quality, and living standards.

Frequency

Continuous

Coverage

Usually resident adults and children of all ages, including those living in non-private accommodation.

Sample

Approximately 14,000 adults and 5,000 children annually.

Link

New Zealand Health Survey 

New Zealand Household Travel Survey

Lead agency

Ministry of Transport

Description

The New Zealand Household Travel Survey collects information about day-to-day travel in New Zealand, such as how and when New Zealanders travel. The results give a picture of the travel patterns and choices of all types of people.

Frequency

Continuous

Coverage

New Zealand adults and children living in private dwellings.

Sample

2,200 households annually.

Link

New Zealand Household Travel Survey 

Survey of Adult Skills

Lead agency

Ministry of Education

Description

The Survey of Adult Skills is part of the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). It measures adults’ proficiency in key information-processing skills – literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving in technology-rich environments – and gathers information on how adults use their skills at home, at work, and in the wider community.

Frequency

5 yearly

Coverage

People aged 16–65 years usually resident in private dwellings.

Sample

Approximately 5,000 individuals.

Link

Survey of Adult Skills 

Demographic estimates and projections

Lead agency

Stats NZ

Description

Stats NZ produces a range of demographic estimates and projections on a regular basis. They show how the size, composition, and geographic distribution of New Zealand’s population, families and households, and labour force is changing. The series include national and subnational population estimates and projections, national and subnational ethnic population projections, Māori population estimates, national labour force projections, and national and subnational family and household projections.

Frequency

Varies by series.

Coverage

Varies by series.

Sample

NA

Link

Estimates and projections

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