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Excluded topics

The main topics and changes that we have not included in the 2018 Census are:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Step-families
  • Licence to occupy
  • Ownership of other dwellings
  • Second address/residence

We also excluded a number of other topics or changes. They were not deemed a high enough priority for further investigation during the content determination process (see About the 2018 Census for why only a limited number of questions can be asked in the census). Some examples include well-being, paternity, veteran population, number of pets, and drug use.

Sexual orientation

Preliminary view of 2018 Census content did not recommend inclusion of sexual orientation due to concerns around the likely data quality and sensitivity of including questions on this topic in a self-completed questionnaire.

However, the consultation indicated that a number of customers, particularly non-governmental organisations and researchers, were interested in the collection of this information. Submissions stated that the detailed information the census could provide on members of sexual minority populations would better inform funding and policy decisions for these population groups, particularly in health.

Given the level of interest in this information, we included a question in the early phases of our testing programme to assess whether a question on this topic would produce quality data if included in the 2018 Census.

The results from the July 2016 test indicated that there would likely be some issues in producing high-quality data for this topic. In the data collected, the non-heterosexual populations were smaller than the number of respondents who did not answer the question or indicated they preferred not to answer it. As a result, the level of confidence in the data we would be able to produce for this topic would be of concern. We also received some negative feedback in our public testing of this question, indicating sensitivity to answering questions on this topic.

Our testing indicated that collecting information on this topic in a self-completed questionnaire would not produce good quality data. However, in September 2017, we will be testing whether the NZGSS, a survey of approximately 8,000 people every two years that focuses on well-being, will provide a better platform for gathering information on this topic.

Gender identity

Gender identity is an individual’s internal sense of being wholly female, wholly male, or having aspects of female and/or male.

Information on gender identity has been of interest for a number of census cycles. Evidence shows that the intersex and transgender community are disadvantaged across a range of social well-being, health, and economic indicators. Understanding, social acceptance, and visibility has grown over time.

We released a statistical standard for gender identity in 2015, to help standardise definitions and measures of information on this concept across New Zealand. Several organisations collect information on gender identity in some form, including the Ministry of Health, Department of Corrections, and the New Zealand Transport Agency. None of these existing collections of gender identity are within surveys with the primary purpose of social and population analysis, as the census is.

We did not recommend the inclusion of gender identity in Preliminary view of 2018 Census content due to concerns around the likely data quality and complexity of including questions on this concept as well as a question on sex in a self-completed questionnaire.

Consultation indicated that a number of customers, particularly non-governmental organisations and researchers, were interested in the collection of gender identity, particularly in order to get information on the transgender population. Submissions stated that the information the census could provide on members of gender minority populations would better inform funding and policy decisions for these population groups.

Given the level of interest in this information, we included this topic as part of our testing programme to assess whether we could produce quality data from the 2018 Census. Our question development was informed by the recently released gender identity standard. We conducted cognitive testing with transgender respondents.

Testing indicated that response behaviour to this question was variable across transgender respondents. Gender identity can change over time and be expressed in a number of ways and forms. It is difficult to create a question that captures all these aspects. Information collected from a census question on gender identity would not enable us to output any population estimates on the populations of interest. Therefore, we will not include this topic in the 2018 Census. However, we are committed to further investigating this important but complex topic within the wider OSS.

Step-families

Although the consultation showed support for collecting information on step-families, we will not include this in the 2018 Census.

Testing of possible approaches to collecting this information showed difficulties with understanding the term ‘step’ and the scope of who would be included. There were also issues with how collecting step-families information could affect collection of the existing family and household information.

Identifying the nature of step-relationships within households is complex. Whether information of suitable quality can be collected in the New Zealand census has not been established at this point. Further testing and development work would be required to do this. The collection of information on step-families will be reconsidered for future censuses.

Licence to occupy

The consultation indicated support for collecting information on licence to occupy, which is the most common type of tenure for people living in independent, self-care townhouses and units in retirement villages. A licence to occupy allows people to live in a dwelling but they do not own it.

Data on licence to occupy would be helpful for understanding changes in home ownership rates and the characteristics of people in this situation, which can be important for councils (eg following natural disasters). However, we will not collect information on licence to occupy in the 2018 Census because testing showed that this term was not well understood by respondents and collecting this information would result in confusion and errors. We’ll investigate alternative ways of collecting licence to occupy information.

Ownership of other dwellings

Some interest in measuring ownership of other dwellings (those that people do not live in) or the number of properties a person owns was also expressed during consultation. This would provide fuller measurement of private dwelling ownership in New Zealand. However, there does not appear to be a strong need for this information compared with the need for information on home ownership, so we will not collect it in the 2018 Census.

The second residence topic that was proposed earlier may have provided some information on ownership of other dwellings, but we have decided not to include second residence information in the 2018 Census.

Second address/residence

Second address or residence was identified by customers as a topic that would meet several information needs if collected in the census. The main information needs identified were: information to help with understanding regional population fluctuations, information on family connections across households, and better information on New Zealand’s housing stock. Many people in New Zealand have more than one residence so the information currently collected on usual residence in the census has limitations.

Preliminary view of 2018 Census content recommended that second address/residence be included, following further clarification of information needs and testing of a suitable question. Feedback from consultation indicated that interest in this topic was spread across the information needs identified.

We tested questions on second address in cognitive testing and the July 2016 Test. The questions tested were similar to the second address or residence question previously used by the Office of National Statistics (UK). However, we altered them to suit the range of situations and responses that were occurring in a New Zealand context.

The testing indicated that a second address/residence question was burdensome and difficult for respondents due to the complex nature of the information required. Respondents would often struggle to answer the question, or would give a response that was different to the intent of the question. As a result of this, there were data quality issues with the information collected.

Following the testing, we considered reducing the scope of this topic. However, comparing the value of a second address/residence topic with a reduced scope (covering only one or two information needs) with the value of other topics being considered for inclusion in the census indicated that it did not merit inclusion.

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