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Unpaid activities


'Unpaid activities' covers unpaid activities performed in the four weeks prior to the census that are done either:

for people living in the same household as the respondent, or

for people outside the respondent's household.

Relationship to questionnaire(s)

Data on unpaid activities comes from question 46 on the individual form (PDF 395kb).

Subject population

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

The subject population for this variable is the census usually resident population aged 15 years and over.

Non-response rate

The 2006 non-response rate was 8.7 percent.

The 2001 non-response rate was 8.7 percent.

Quality Management Strategy priority level

Unpaid activities is a supplementary variable.

The Census Quality Management Strategy assigns a priority level to all census variables.

Supplementary variables do not fit in directly with the main purpose of a census, but are still of importance to certain groups. These variables have third priority in terms of effort and resources.

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

Comparability with 1996 and 2001 Census data

There are issues affecting the comparability of this data with the 1996 and 2001 Census data:

  • Care has to be taken in comparing 1996, 2001 and 2006 data, because not only were the categories different but they were also combined in different ways.
  • Comparisons between 2001 and 2006 should be of reasonable quality. Comparisons between 2006 or 2001 and 1996, however, are not recommended. In 1996 there were two questions: one covering unpaid work in the house and the other outside, and study was a separate question. Some categories in the 2001 question appear in the 1996 Census, but the different questions make comparisons difficult.
  • Changes to the questionnaire (ie separating out 'study participation' to form a separate question in 2006) mean that the 2006 data is not directly comparable with the 2001 data. The counts for individual unpaid activities should not be affected, but the data for the 'number of unpaid activities' variable and the 'no unpaid activities' category is not comparable with the corresponding 2001 data.
  • Extensive time-series analysis is not recommended.

Comparability with other data

This data can be compared with the 1998/1999 Time Use Survey data, but care should be taken.

The results from the 2006 Census differ from the Time Use Survey in that the level of participation was much lower than that found in the Time Use Survey. However, the pattern of unpaid activities in the two collections was very similar (ie what was high in one was also high in the other).

Significant issues

There are no significant issues that users should be aware of, other than the comparability issues.

Other things to be aware of

  • All census data was subject to considerable checks (including edits) during processing and evaluation, to ensure that it meets quality standards and is suitable for use. These checks were applied to data supplied both on paper and on Internet forms. In addition to these quality checks, the Internet form 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 Internet 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 on the Internet and on paper for this variable:
    • The Internet form did not allow the inconsistent multiple response of 'none of these' to be selected along with one or more unpaid activities. If the 'none of these' box was marked, any other response(s) to unpaid activities disappeared. Inconsistent multiple responses to this question were possible when forms were completed on paper.
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