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Understanding Migrant Outcomes - Insights from the Australian Census and Migrants Integrated Dataset, Australia methodology

Reference period
2016
Released
18/07/2018
Next release Unknown
First release

Explanatory notes

Introduction

1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from the 2016 Australian Migrants and Census Integrated Dataset (ACMID).

2 The statistics in this publication relate to people who have migrated to Australia under a permanent Skill, Family, Humanitarian or Other Permanent visa stream and arrived in Australia between 1 January 2000 and 9 August 2016 (see Note 8). In this publication, this population is referred to as Permanent Migrants.

3 The 2016 Australian Migrants and Census Integrated Dataset (ACMID) Project linked the 2016 Census of Population and Housing dataset with Department of Social Services (DSS) Permanent Migrant Data. 

Data sources

Permanent Migrant Data

4 The Permanent Migrant Data (PMD) is administrative data pertaining to permanent settlers in Australia from various departmental systems and a number of external sources, including the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) and Department of Human Services (Medicare Australia). The Department of Social Services (DSS) is the custodian of the data. The data provides information for the evaluation and planning of settlement services within DSS and for other government and community agencies involved in the settlement of migrants.

2016 Census of population and housing

5 For information about the 2016 Census and collection methodology please refer to the information provided on the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au) at Understanding Census Data. Information about the data quality of the Census is available on the ABS website under Census Data Quality.

Scope

6 The scope of the 2016 Australian Migrants and Census Integrated Dataset (ACMID) is restricted to people who responded to the 9 August 2016 Census of Population and Housing and who had a permanent migrant settlement record with a date of arrival between 1 January 2000 and 9 August 2016 (inclusive).

7 The 2016 ACMID excludes:

  • Persons whose Census record indicated that they were an overseas visitor
  • Persons on a Temporary or Bridging visa
     

8 The date of arrival on which the scope is based reflects an individual's latest arrival pertaining to their latest permanent visa. For an offshore applicant, the arrival date is when the applicant arrives in Australia on that permanent visa. However, for a person who applies onshore for a permanent visa, the date of arrival listed is the date of their last entry into Australia.

Data integration

9 Statistical data integration involves combining information from different data sources such as administrative, survey and/or Census to provide new datasets for statistical and research purposes.

10 Data linking is a key part of statistical data integration and involves combining records from different source datasets using variables that are shared between the sources. Data linkage is performed on unit records that represent individual persons.

Linkage between the Permanent Migrant Data and the 2016 Census

11 The 2016 Permanent Migrant Data records were linked to the 2016 Census of Population and Housing data using a combination of deterministic and probabilistic linkage methodologies.

12 Deterministic data linkage, also known as rule-based linkage, involves assigning record pairs across two datasets that match exactly or closely on common variables. This type of linkage is most applicable where the records from different sources consistently report sufficient information to efficiently identify links. It is less applicable in instances where there are issues with data quality or where there are limited characteristics. The deterministic linkage method used in this project is considered a silver standard linkage because encoded name and address information was used in this phase of the linkage.

13 Probabilistic linking allows links to be assigned in spite of missing or inconsistent information, providing there is enough agreement on other variables to offset any disagreement. In probabilistic data linkage, records from two datasets are compared and brought together using several variables common to each dataset (Fellegi & Sunter, 1969).

14 A key feature of the methodology is the ability to handle a variety of linking variables and record comparison methods to produce a single numerical measure of how well two particular records match, referred to as the 'linkage weight'. This allows ranking of all possible links and optimal assignment of the link or non-link status (Solon and Bishop, 2009).” This probabilistic linkage method used in this project is considered a silver standard linkage because it also used encoded names and address, date of birth, country of birth, year of arrival and codes representing small geographic areas. Further information about name and address encoding can be found in Information paper: Name encoding method for Census 2016.

Linkage results

15 At the completion of the linkage process 1,924,551 (88%) out of 2,166,014 records from the Permanent Migrant Data were linked to the 2016 Census data. The overall linkage accuracy (precision) for this project was estimated to be around 99%. Of the final 1,924,551 linked records, 549,361 (28%) records linked using the deterministic linkage method and 1,375,190 records (71%) were linked using the probabilistic method.

16 While the linkage is of high quality, there is a small chance of linkage error: false links and missed links. False links are influenced by the similarity of linking information in records that actually represent different individuals. This may be due to random chance but is primarily driven by low-quality information in linking variable: the less information available to discriminate two individuals, the more likely they will match by chance. Missed links are primarily influenced by the absence of an individual from Census and a lack of sufficient quality in linking variables.

Estimation method

Calibration

17 The estimates in this publication are obtained by assigning a "weight" to each linked record. The weight is a value which indicates how many Permanent Migrant Dataset records are represented by the linked record. Weights aim to adjust for the fact that the linked Permanent Migrant Dataset records may not be representative of all the Permanent Migrant Data records. The weights on the Australian Census and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016 (ACMID 2016) range from 1.0 to 3.2.

18 A person level file containing 2,167,501 records which consisted of information about a permanent migrant’s basic demographics (age, sex marital status etc.), migration characteristics (visa subclass, applicant status, location of visa grant, etc.) and a history of address changes was used in a two-step calibration process.

19 The first step of the calibration process adjusted for non-response. The methodology adopted was developed to adjust for non-response in sample surveys. Concepts of non-response and non-links differ in that the former is a result of an action by a person selected in a sample, and the latter is the failure to link a record likely as a result of the quality of its linking variables. However, both situations may result in under/over representation, and as such the methodology developed to adjust for non-response is suitable to apply to adjust for non-links. Like its 2011 counterpart, ACMID 2016 is unique in that many characteristics of the non-linked records are known, and these characteristics can therefore be used as inputs into an adjustment for unlinked records.

20 The propensity of a Permanent Migrant Data record to be linked to a Census record was modelled using a logistic regression, which outputs the probability of linking for each record based on that record’s characteristics. Each record was then assigned an initial weight given by the inverse of this probability.

21 The second step of the calibration process uses the weights derived from the first step as an input into the calibration to the known Permanent Migrant Dataset subpopulation totals such as visa group, location of visa grant, applicant status and state/ territory of residence. Calibration was then conducted to the following benchmark totals from the Permanent Migrant Data file:

  • Visa Stream by Location by Principal Flag
  • Visa Sub Group
  • Refugee Status (visa subclass 200) by Location of visa grant
  • Country of Birth (Major group - 1 digit level)
  • Country of Birth (Top 15 countries - 4 digit level)
  • Arrival Year
  • State by Visa Stream (Skill, Family, Humanitarian)
  • Sex By Age group (10 year level)
     

22 The two-step calibration process then weighted the original 1,924,551 linked records up to 2,166,014 in scope records from the Permanent Migrant Data population.

Estimation

23 Estimates in this publication are obtained by summing the weights of persons with the characteristic of interest. Cells in this publication have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

Reliability of estimates

24 Error in estimates produced using the 2016 Australian Migrants and Census Integrated Dataset may occur due to false links and the non-random distribution of unlinked records.

25 The calibration process does not mitigate against the error introduced by false links or error introduced in the statistical linking process. Due to the quality issues mentioned above, estimates should generally be treated with caution.

Unlinked records

26 Error introduced by under/over representation of characteristic based groups in unlinked records has been mitigated to some extent by the two-step calibration process.

Measures of error

27 In survey data sampling error is estimated using a measure of Relative Standard Error (RSE). Whilst RSEs can be produced for this data, they would not represent the error introduced by false links or error introduced in the statistical linking process, and have therefore not been included in this publication.

28 Statements made in the text of this publication that compare proportions between two population groups have not been tested for significance. Statistical significance testing requires an estimate of the magnitude of the error for each statistical estimate, which is not yet available for statistical estimates produced using the 2016 Australian Migrants and Census Integrated Dataset.

Interpretation of results

29 There are several variables common to the two source datasets which have definitional differences.

Year of arrival

30 Estimates in this publication are produced using the 2016 Census year of arrival variable (YARP). The year of arrival question on the Census asks overseas-born people to report the year they first arrived in Australia with the intention of staying for at least one year. The year the person first arrived in Australia to live here for one year or more may have occurred many years before their 'arrival date' as reported in the Permanent Migrant Data.

31 The 'Prior to 2000' year of arrival group represents those permanent migrants (whose Permanent Migrant Data arrival date is 1 January 2000 to 9 August 2016) who reported on the Census that they first came to Australia to live for one year or more prior to 2000. For some individuals, their year of arrival as reported on the Census is different to their Permanent Migrant Data arrival date pertaining to their permanent visa. The Permanent Migrant Data arrival date reflects an individual’s latest arrival pertaining to their latest permanent visa (see Note 8). Where the Census year of arrival precedes that of the Permanent Migrant Data, it is likely that the person was a temporary migrant for a period of time before attaining permanent resident status.

32 Due to the conceptual differences discussed (Notes 30-31) the year of arrival estimates in this publication will not reflect the Department of Home Affairs reported migrant intake for individual years of arrival, nor will they reflect year of arrival estimates from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

Country of birth

33 Estimates in this publication are produced using the 2016 Census country of birth variable (BPLP). The concept measured for country of birth is the same for both the Census and Permanent Migrant Data. However, the Census variable was coded using the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC 1269.0) as it was on 9 August 2016, whilst the Permanent Migrant Data country of birth variable has been coded at the time of record creation over an 16 year period and therefore is based on a classification that has evolved over time.

34 For a substantial number of records, the 4 digit country of birth reported on the Census is different to the 4 digit country of birth recorded on the Permanent Migrant Data. For the majority of these records the 2 digit country of birth code is the same and the difference at the 4 digit level is due to differences in coding and the classifications.

35 Due to the conceptual differences described in Note 33 and 34 estimates for individual 4 digit country of birth may not necessarily reflect the Department of Home Affairs reported migrant intake from that country of birth.

Comparability with other data

36 Estimates from the 2016 Australian Migrants and Census Integrated Dataset will differ from the estimates produced from other ABS collections and estimates produced from the Permanent Migrant Data for several reasons. The estimates are a result of integrating data from two data sources, one an administrative dataset and the other a census. The linked records have been calibrated to known population totals from the Permanent Migrant Data, and the resulting dataset is unique from both the Census and the Permanent Migrant Data. Due to the quality issues mentioned in Notes 24 to 28, estimates should generally be treated with caution.

Privacy

37 The ABS respects individuals rights to privacy and is committed to keeping information safe and secure. The ABS is subject to strong legislation protecting the confidentiality of information, including the Census and Statistics Act 1905 which makes it a criminal offence to breach secrecy provisions.

38 We handle personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles, and abide by the High Level Principles for Data Integration Involving Commonwealth Data for Statistical and Research Purposes.

Confidentiality

39 In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, data are subject to a confidentiality process before release as noted above. This confidentiality process is undertaken to avoid releasing information that may allow the identification of particular individuals, families, households, dwellings or businesses.

Perturbation of data

40 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustments of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.

41 The introduction of these random adjustments result in tables not adding up. While some datasets apply a technique called additivity to give internally consistent results, additivity has not been implemented on the 2016 ACMID. As a result, randomly adjusted individual cells will be consistent across tables, but the totals in any table will not be the sum of the individual cell values. The size of the difference between summed cells and the relevant total will generally be very small.

Acknowledgement

42 The ABS acknowledges the continuing support provided by the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Social Services for the Australian Migrants and Census Integrated Dataset (ACMID) Project. The provision of data as well as ongoing assistance provided by both agencies is essential to enable this important work to be undertaken. The enhancing of migrant related statistics through data linkage by the ABS would not be possible without their cooperation and support. The ABS also acknowledges the importance of the information provided freely by individuals in the course of the 2016 Census. The Census information of individuals received by the ABS is treated in the strictest confidence as is required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905. See the following link to the Census Privacy Policy.

Glossary

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Apart from the concepts relating to variables originating from the Department of Social Services (DSS) Migrant Settlement Data, 'Visa stream', 'offshore/onshore' applicant and 'main/secondary applicant' all other terms and definitions relate to Census variables. Explanations have been provided below, however, the Census Dictionary can be referred to if more detail is required.

Australian citizen

Persons who arrived to live in Australia on a permanent or temporary visa and have since obtained Australian citizenship.

Being an Australian citizen formalises a person's membership of the Australian community. It entitles a person to live permanently in Australia, hold an Australian passport and do such things as vote to elect Australia's governments, stand for parliament, work in the Public Service and serve in the armed forces. A person may acquire Australian citizenship in a number of ways, for example, by birth, adoption, descent, resumption or grant of Australian citizenship (naturalisation). Migrants no longer require a visa once citizenship is granted.

  • General residence eligibility - Migrants can apply for Citizenship after residing in Australia holding a visa for four years immediately before applying. This must include the last 12 months as a permanent resident. In addition they must not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total, in the 4 year period, including no more than 90 days absent in the year before applying. 
     

Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED)

The Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) is a national standard classification which includes all sectors of the Australian education system: that is, schools, vocational education and training, and higher education. From 2001 ASCED replaced a number of classifications used in administrative and statistical systems, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics Classifications of Qualifications (ABSCQ). The ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education. See Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Country of birth

Country of birth has been classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016 (cat. no. 1269.0).

Employed

Persons who, during the week prior to the Census on 9 August 2016 (last week) worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind in a job, business or farm (comprising employees, employers and own account workers); or worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers); or were employees who had a job but were not at work.

Employed full time

Employed persons who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and those who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.

Employed part time

Employed persons who usually worked less than 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work in the reference week.

Family migrants

Persons who have arrived in Australia on a Child, Partner, Parent or Other Family stream visa. These migrants are selected on the basis of their family relationship (spouse, de facto partner, intent to marry, child, parent, other family) with their sponsor who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand Citizen.  

Humanitarian migrant

Includes permanent entrants under the Offshore Humanitarian Program, as well as those who were granted permanent protection post-arrival in Australia.

Labour force

Persons who were in the categories 'employed' or 'unemployed' as defined.

Level of highest non-school qualification

Level of highest non-school qualification identifies the highest qualification a person has attained in any area of study. It is not a measurement of the relative importance of different fields of study but a ranking of qualifications and other educational attainments regardless of the particular area of study or the type of institution in which the study was undertaken. It is categorised according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0) Level of Education classification.

Main applicant

The 'main applicant' is generally the person whose skills or proposed activities in Australia are assessed by the Department of Home Affairs as part of their visa application. They will usually have been specifically identified on the application form as the 'main applicant'.

Main field of non-school qualification

Main field of non-school qualification is defined as the subject matter of the qualification. It is categorised according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0) Field of Education classification.

Non-school qualification

Non-school qualifications are awarded for educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education. They include qualifications at the Postgraduate Degree level, Master Degree level, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate level, Bachelor Degree level, Advanced Diploma and Diploma level, and Certificates I, II, III and IV levels. Non-school qualifications may be obtained concurrently with school qualifications.

Not in the labour force

Persons who were not in the categories 'employed' or 'unemployed' as defined.

Occupation

Occupation is classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 2013, Version 1.2 (cat. no. 1220.0).

Offshore applicant

A person who has applied from outside of Australia for a permanent entry visa is called an 'offshore' applicant.

For an offshore applicant, their arrival date is recorded when the applicant arrives in Australia on that permanent visa.

Onshore applicant

A person who has applied for a permanent visa from within Australia (e.g. maybe on a temporary visa and wishes to remain in Australia, such as a student or a temporary worker) is classified as an 'Onshore' applicant.

For a person who applies onshore, their arrival date is the date of their last entry into Australia.

Other permanent visa

Includes all other permanent visa categories (not included in the Skill, Family or Humanitarian streams) such as Former Citizen or Former resident (151,152) and Resolution of Status (851) or where the type of permanent visa could not be determined.

Permanent visa

The permission or authority granted by Australia for foreign nationals to live in Australia permanently.

Permanent migrant

A person who was born overseas, was not an Australian citizen or New Zealand citizen on arrival, does not currently hold New Zealand citizenship, and has permanent Australian resident status.

Skilled migrants

Persons who have arrived in Australia on a Skill stream visa. The Skill stream consists of a number of categories for prospective migrants where there is demand in Australia for their particular skills. They could be nominated by an employer or State/Territory Government, apply under points based Skilled  Migration, have outstanding talents or demonstrated business skills.

Secondary applicant

A person whose visa was granted on the basis of being the family member (e.g. spouse, dependent child) of a person who qualified for a visa. They will have been identified on the visa application as an 'other' or secondary applicant with the person who met the visa criteria being specifically identified on the visa application as the 'main applicant'. Secondary applicants are included in the same visa stream as the main applicant. For example, family members granted permanent visas where the main applicant has been granted a Skilled stream visa, will all enter Australia under a Skilled stream visa.

Unemployed

Persons aged 15 years and over who were not employed last week (at the time of the Census), and had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the last four weeks and were available and could have started work last week if the job had been available then.

Visa stream (permanent)

The permanent visa subclasses held by individuals are categorised into the following visa streams.

  • Skill stream
  • Family stream
  • Humanitarian stream
  • Other Permanent visa stream
     

For more information see Glossary entries on Skilled migrants, Family migrants, Humanitarian migrants and Other Permanent visa.

Year of arrival

All overseas born people, in scope for the Census, are asked to report when they first came to Australia to live for one year or more. The Census Year of arrival (YARP) is a different concept from the arrival date recorded in the Permanent Migrant Data.

The arrival date in the Permanent Migrant Data reflects an individuals latest arrival date pertaining to their latest permanent visa. For this reason, while the scope of the Australian Census and Migrants Integrated Dataset is restricted to those permanent migrants with an arrival date from 1 January 2000 - 9 August 2016, it is quite valid for people to have reported an earlier date of arrival on the Census (i.e. prior to 2000). Note that a migrant may have been resident in Australia for a number of years prior to having been granted a permanent visa so their Census arrival date may relate to an earlier temporary visa (see Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 30 to 31).