Stories from the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset

Lunchtime presentation
Wednesday 25 July, 1300


Paul Campbell
Australian National University

Jennifer Baxter
Australian Institute of Family Studies

The Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD) is produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and brings together data from the 2006, 2011 and 2016 Censuses, allowing us to explore how Australian society is changing over time. The ACLD has led to valuable analysis of issues including the changing Indigenous population, educational outcomes, paid parental leave and transitions into lone parenthood.
This year the ABS and researchers will present new analyses made possible by the release of 2011–2016 ACLD, and discuss its potential to meaningfully affect policy. We will also showcase updates to investigations carried out using the 2006–2011 ACLD. Delegates are invited to speak to the ABS team to find out how the ACLD was produced and how to access it.

Does education after high school happen for children in foster care?
In Australia, State care is terminated for foster children on their 18th birthday. Without State care and the support of a caring family, these young adults are required to support themselves. This is particularly difficult when aspiring to achieve further education. Previous international research has reported that most young adults in foster care have aspirations to attend further education, however, numerous studies have shown that a much lower percentage of young adults in foster care, relative to other adolescents, enrol to attend further education or complete it.
The ACLD provides a unique opportunity to investigate transitions out of high school for foster children on a large scale in Australia, and to identify which socio-economic factors and family context have positive or negative impacts on these transitions.

Understanding demographic and socioeconomic change using the Australian Census Longitudinal Database (ACLD)
Longitudinal data is vital for understanding patterns of change at the individual level, what influences those changes, and what the potential effects might be. Australia has a growing longitudinal survey environment, including the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, and a number of other surveys for specific population groups. However, these surveys do not have large enough samples to obtain estimates for very small population sub groups or for small geographic areas. The aim of this presentation is to highlight the way in which the ACLD can be used to understand change for such groups, with examples of published and ongoing research on Indigenous Australians, small geographic areas (in terms of income inequality), particular occupation and industry groups, and others based on demographic/socioeconomic characteristics. The presentation will also discuss some of the challenges of using the ACLD for these groups.

Motherhood and employment transitions: updated findings using the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset
Becoming a mother is the point at which women very often undergo significant changes to their attachment to paid work. Some new mothers withdraw from employment for a lengthy time, some change occupations, some remain in the same type of work, but reduce work hours, while a minority return to full-time work in their pre-birth job after a period of leave. Women’s pre-birth work characteristics are likely to be strong predictors of these different (or other) pathways taken, but such information is rarely available in cross-sectional studies, limiting our understanding of the precursors of mothers’ return to work pathways. This paper uses the recently updated Australian Longitudinal Census Data (ACLD) to examine new mothers’ employment transitions. With new census data we can analyse mothers’ transitions in employment between 2006 and 2011, as well as between 2011 and 2016. This is done by selecting those who were new mothers (with an under one year old child) at the later time, analysing their employment participation at this time in respect to their job characteristics five years earlier. The cross-sectional census data show significant changes in employment patterns of mothers between 2011 and 2016, but now with two cohorts of longitudinal data for these mothers, we can see to what extent those changes are related to different patterns of pre-birth work characteristics. Being based on a 5% sample of the Australian census, these data offer opportunities to explore maternal employment transitions for a range of subgroups of mothers.