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.id insight Newsletter
May 2019 Edition

A nation’s democracy is only as good as its Census

We frequently hear about the importance of Census data to how we make evidence-based decisions about funding child care, aged care, schools, housing and infrastructure.

Lesser known is the importance of Census data to understanding our economy and how it is performing and changing. Even less is known about how Census data is used to inform fundamental decisions about how we conduct a fair and inclusive democracy.

In a rapidly-changing demographic and economic environment, conducting a Census to count the number of households and people right down to place-of-residence enables us to, as accurately as possible, draw fair and just electoral boundaries.

This is the best way to ensure that our votes reflect our needs and desires. Regularly conducting a fair and accurate Census is central to conducting fair and accurate elections in any democracy.

It is concerning that threats to the veracity of Census data seem to be occurring more frequently. Here are three examples;

In Australia, the 2016 #CensusFail experience occurred where cyber attacks on the digital census nearly undermined the whole project. This was subsequently resolved by the dedicated ABS Census warriors.

The New Zealand’s 2016 Census was literally destroyed by an earthquake.

The ‘replacement’ 2018 New Zealand Census results were hit by an unexpectedly low response rate. Stats New Zealand has been working on resolving by using government administrative data to supplement the undercount, however they state that “..using other government data to compensate for missing data is not a silver bullet for all the information that a Census traditionally provides.”

The United States is currently fighting a high court battle against a bid by the Republicans to insert a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, which many say would decrease the response rate from illegal immigrants.

Putting to one side the political implications of that decision, the comparisons with what we’ve seen in New Zealand recently are striking. If the marginalised in our society aren’t counted in the Census, it makes it hard for anyone to advocate for their needs.

Conducting and participating in a Census is an essential part of conducting and participating in a democracy. Communities need to trust our governments to conduct an accurate and secure Census because a nation’s democracy is only as good as its Census.

(If you're going to be working with the New Zealand Census data when it is released, grab your copy of our free guide to navigating the 2018 New Zealand Census here).

Author Ivan

Housing strategy

How to measure housing stress in your local government area

Affordable housing data


Have you ever tried to report on housing affordability in your area?

If you have, you will know that, even with access to Census and house price data, calculating housing affordability and housing stress can be difficult. 

Georgia Allan shares some work we’ve done with the ABS, in response to a recent change to the definition of ‘housing stress’ in some parts of Australia, to make it easier for local planning and advocacy teams to measure housing affordability in their local area.



New Zealand Census Update

Data in September + a free reference guide



Many of you will be aware the 2018 New Zealand Census didn't go to plan.

Last week, Stats NZ told us we can expect the first release of data from the 2018 Census in September.

Penny Bloomberg provides a summary of the latest from Stats NZ, along with a link to pre-register for your copy of a free reference guide we've written for anyone who needs to know how changes in the 2018 Census will affect them.

Pre-register for your copy of "Worth the wait: Navigating the 2018 New Zealand Census" here


Series: Drivers of population change

#1 - Growth from 'Natural increase'



Australia’s population is growing, but what is driving that growth?
Natural increase, or the balance of births and deaths in a given area, is one cause of population change.
In this, the first in a 3-part series on the drivers of population change, Glenn looks at the places in Australia that have the largest change in population from ‘natural increase’, including a map showing the strong spatial patterns associated with natural increase, which also allows you to see the effect of natural increase (or decrease) in your area.

Series: Drivers of population change

#2 - Overseas migration

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Overseas migration has been – and continues to be – a significant part of Australia’s population growth in recent years.

In this, the second part of his Drivers of population change series, Glenn looks at the role Net Overseas Migration has played in our population growth, and how the patterns of settlement and subsequent migration play out in different parts of Australia. 


Case study

Making the business case for cultural facilities



It is widely acknowledged that cultural facilities such as museums, art galleries, theatres and their related activities generate a number of social and cultural benefits to regional towns and cities such as community cohesion, sense of identity, health and improved educational outcomes. 

But how do you evaluate these economic and social benefits, so you can make the business case for funding?

In this case study, we share how our economic consulting team used traditional market and non-market valuation techniques to develop a compelling case for the wider economic and social benefits of the proposed revitalisation of the Grafton Regional Gallery.



The impact of falling house prices on local economies



As we get to the pointy-end of the Australian federal election campaign, there is much speculation this week that the Reserve Bank of Australia are about to make their first rate cut since August 2016.

We thought it was a good time to re-share a recent piece by our economist Rob Hall, who specialises in helping our local government partners understand what these macro-economic events mean for their local economies.

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