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Introduction

Information about where people live is key to understanding population structure. In official statistics, location information is used to create regional and local population counts, and to understand the geographic distribution of other variables, such as ethnicity or income. Location information is also used to answer a wide range of policy and research questions.

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings is a major source of information about where people live. The location information collected in the census is of high quality and forms the basis for population estimates and other official statistics.

Information about where people live is also contained in many administrative data sources, such as the health, tax and education data collections. Currently, this information is not widely used in official statistics, and only limited information is available about the quality of the location information in these administrative data sources. Understanding the quality of location information in administrative data sources is crucial for users of those sources.

Many national statistical agencies, including Statistics NZ, are currently attempting to increase their use of administrative data in the production of official statistics. Work underway at Statistics NZ to transform the census model relies on developing a better understanding of the quality of location information contained in administrative data sources. The next section provides an overview of the census transformation context at Statistics NZ.

Aims and scope

The work described in this paper was undertaken as part of Statistics NZ’s Census Transformation project. The major aim of the work was to examine the quality of location of usual residence information in the IDI. This was done by comparing the geographic information recorded in the IDI with the geographic information recorded in the census.

The 2013 Census was linked to the IDI. This allowed us to compare the location that an individual reported in the census with the location reported to the agencies that have location information in the IDI. Census meshblocks of usual residence are recorded with high accuracy and so a comparison of an IDI meshblock against a census meshblock gives a good indication of the quality of the IDI meshblocks.

The analyses in this paper were based on the IDI as at May 2015. This paper only considers geographic information about where people live. Other types of geographic information, such as workplace address, are not considered in this paper. Furthermore, analyses in this paper are restricted to people who were usual residents of New Zealand at the time of the 2013 Census.

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