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Absentee

Definition

An 'absentee' is a person who is identified on the census dwelling form as usually living in a particular dwelling, but who did not complete a census individual form at that dwelling because they were elsewhere in New Zealand or overseas at the time of the census. A person listed as an absentee on a census dwelling form may complete a census individual form elsewhere in New Zealand. Included as absentees in the census are children away at boarding school, and people away on business, on holiday, in hospital and so on. Long-term hospital patients and university and other tertiary students who live away from the dwelling for most of the year are excluded.

'Number of absentees' is the total number of absentees for each household.

'Absentee in New Zealand on census night' provides information on whether absentees were elsewhere in New Zealand during the survey reference period or were overseas during the survey reference period.

'Absentee – time away from New Zealand' collects information on how long altogether an absentee, who is overseas on census night, is away from New Zealand.

A 'New Zealand resident temporarily overseas' is an absentee who is overseas and away from New Zealand for less than 12 months.

It should be noted that absentees are only recorded in dwellings where a dwelling form was completed, therefore there are no absentees recorded for unoccupied dwellings.

Relationship to questionnaire(s)

Data on absentees is derived from questions 19, 20 and 21 on the dwelling form (PDF 783kb).

Subject population

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

The subject population for the 'number of absentees' variable is individuals who are absent from households in private occupied dwellings. (Visitor-only private dwellings are excluded.)

The subject population for the 'absentee in New Zealand on census night' variable is all absentees, as this variable provides information on whether absentees were in New Zealand or not.

The subject population for the 'absentee – time away from New Zealand' variable is absentees away from New Zealand on census night.

Non-response rate

The 2006 non-response rates for the absentee variables were:
Absentee in New Zealand on census night – 7.5 percent
Absentee – time away from New Zealand – 4.0 percent.

In 2001 the non-response rates were:
Absentee in New Zealand on census night – 10.2 percent
Absentee – time away from New Zealand – 4.4 percent.

Note: The number of absentees variable does not have a non-response rate associated with it because this is a derived variable that is produced after the number of absentees in each dwelling has been determined during processing, after taking various pieces of information into account. However, users should be aware that there is a high rate of non-response (over 20 percent) to the number of absentees question on the dwelling form, which may be affecting the quality of the absentees' data.

Quality Management Strategy priority level

The variables 'number of absentees', 'absentee in New Zealand on census night', 'absentee – time away from New Zealand' are defining variables.

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

Defining variables cover key subject populations that are important for policy development, evaluation or monitoring. These variables are given secondary priority in terms of quality, time and resources across all phases of the 2006 Census.

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

Comparability with 1996 and 2001 Census data

There are no issues affecting the comparability of this data with 1996 and 2001 Census data.

Significant issues

  • The non-response rate is high for absentee variables.
  • Data on absentees can only be collected where a dwelling form has been completed and indicates the existence of an absentee. Potentially, there are a large number of absentees that are not included in the data because of missing information.

Other things to be aware of

  • The relationship of absentees to the reference person is used during census processing to allocate codes to absentees that indicate who they live with and their roles within families (eg partner, parent, child). This is called family coding and is used to derive household and family variables, such as family type and household composition.
  • The dwelling form allows for a maximum of five absentees to be recorded.
  • 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 allowed only one response to be selected for the absentee indicator question (ie question 19). If a further response was selected, the response given previously disappeared. Multiple responses to this question were possible when forms were completed on paper.
    • If respondents marked 'yes' for the absentee indicator question on the Internet, the absentee number (question 20) and absentee details (question 21) questions were greyed out, so the respondent could not answer them unless they changed their answer to the absentee indicator question.
    • The absentee number question on the Internet had a drop-down number box from which a respondent could select a number from one to five. This differed from the paper form, where the respondent could write in any two-digit number (eg 99), even though the absentee details question only had sufficient space for a maximum of five absentees.
    • On the Internet, the number of absentees for whom the respondent was asked to provide details was determined by the answer given in the absentee number question.
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