Sources of personal income (information about this variable and its quality)


Sources of personal income identifies all the various sources from which a person aged 15 years and over received income in the 12 months ending 6 March 2018.

In the census it is generally only realistic to collect information on money income. This is income that a person can normally recall or can readily retrieve from their financial records. Money income is money flow from the deployment of one's labour, entrepreneurial skills, and assets; and from transfers received. So, the concept of money income relies on identifying its sources.

Excluded are income in kind, unrealised income, and contingent income (contingent income depends on the unknown outcome of a course of action, for example, to sue). Excluded also is money received by borrowing, making withdrawals from savings, and receiving repayments of loan principal; and tax credits and reimbursements of expenses.



Variable Details

Other Variable Information

Priority level

Priority level 2

We assign a priority level to all census variables: Priority 1, 2, or 3 (with 1 being highest and 3 being the lowest priority).

Sources of personal income is a priority 2 variable. Priority 2 variables cover key subject populations that are important for policy development, evaluation, or monitoring. These variables are given second priority in terms of quality, time, and resources across all phases of a census.

The census priority level for sources of personal income remains the same as 2013.

Quality Management Strategy and the Information by variable for sources of income (2013) have more information on the priority rating.

Overall quality rating for 2018 Census

High quality

Data quality processes section below has more detail on the rating for this variable.

The External Data Quality Panel has provided an independent assessment of the quality of this variable and has rated it as high quality. 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel: Assessment of Variables has more information.

Subject population

Census usually resident population aged 15 years and over.

‘Subject population’ means the people, families, households, or dwellings to whom the variable applies.

How this data is classified

Census Sources of Personal Income Classification V3.0.0

Sources of personal income is a flat classification with the following categories:

00 No source of income during that time

01 Wages, salary, commissions, bonuses etc paid by my employer

02 Self-employment or business I own and work in

03 Interest, dividends, rent, other investments

04 Regular payments from ACC or a private work accident insurer

05 New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension

06 Other superannuation, pensions, or annuities (other than NZ Superannuation, Veteran's Pension or war pensions)

07 Jobseeker Support

08 Sole Parent Support

09 Supported Living Payment

10 Student Allowance

11 Other government benefits, government income support payments, war pensions or paid parental leave

12 Other sources of income, including support payments from people who do not live in my household

99 Not stated

Multiple responses could be provided for this question, which means that an individual could be counted two or more times and percentages calculated on the total population will add up to more than 100 percent. This is provided in output as ‘total responses’. ‘Not stated’ is the only residual category.

Although there have been no conceptual changes to this variable, there have been minor changes to the classification of this variable since the 2013 Census. This is in line with government changes to benefits, effective from 15 July 2013 and includes:

  • unemployment Benefit and sickness benefit are reclassified in 2018 as Jobseeker Support
  • domestic Purposes Benefit is renamed in 2018 to Sole Parent Support
  • invalids Benefit is renamed in 2018 to Supported Living Payment.

Sources of personal income data is also output numerically using the following classifications:

  • number of different sources of income (up to 12 sources)
  • number of income support sources (excluding ACC and NZ Superannuation payment, up to 5 sources).

The Standards and Classifications page provides background information on classifications and standards.

Question format

Sources of personal income is collected on the individual form (question 34 on the paper form).

Stats NZ Store House has samples for both the individual and dwelling paper forms.

There were differences in how people could respond between the modes of collection (paper and online form).

On the online form:

  • respondents could tick as many options as required to explain their sources of income but could not tick both ‘no source of income’ and a source of income.

On the paper form:

  • respondents could also tick as many options as required but it was possible to mark both ‘no source of income’ and a source of income.

Data from the online forms may therefore be of higher overall quality than data from paper forms. However, processing checks and edits were in place to improve quality of the paper forms.

Related variables

Sources of personal income can be combined with other information to provide:

  • income sources of family
  • income sources of extended family
  • income sources of household.

Family and household income derivations are not included in output of the 2018 Census at this stage due to data quality issues with family and household data.

How this data is used

Outside Stats NZ

  • This data is used for formulating social and economic policy, planning, monitoring programmes and research.
  • Combining total personal income with selected sources of income gives a better indication of the socio-economic status and well-being of individuals and households.

2018 data sources

We used alternative data sources for missing census responses and responses that could not be classified or did not provide the type of information asked for. Where possible, we used responses from the 2013 Census, administrative data from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), or imputation.

The table below shows the breakdown of the various data sources used for this variable.

2018 Sources of income – census usually resident population
aged 15 years and over
Source Percent
Response from 2018 Census 83.6 percent
2013 Census data 0.0 percent
Administrative data 14.1 percent
Statistical imputation 2.1 percent
No information 0.2 percent
Total 100 percent
Due to rounding, individual figures may not always sum to the stated total(s)  

The ‘no information’ percentage is where we were not able to find sources of income data for a person the subject population.

Administrative data sources

For sources of personal income, we derived data solely from Inland Revenue, which provides multiple sources of income information from the following registers:

  • personal Tax Summary
  • IR3
  • tax year summary.

The income data we get from Inland Revenue is only the taxable income for an individual, for example it does not include:

  • superannuation, pensions, or annuities (other than NZ Superannuation, Veteran's Pension or war pensions)
  • supported living payments
  • other government benefits such as income support payments.

Comparing income information from census and administrative sources has more information on the process of using income data from Inland Revenue.

Please note that when examining sources of personal income data for specific population groups within the subject population, the percentage that is from administrative data and statistical imputation may differ from that for the overall subject population.

Missing and residual responses

‘No information’ in the data sources table is the percentage of the subject population coded to ‘not stated’. In previous censuses, non-response was the percentage of the subject population coded to ‘not stated’.

In 2018, the percentage of ‘not stated’ is lower than previous censuses due to the use of the additional data sources described above.

Percentage of ‘not stated’ for the census usually resident population aged 15 years and over:

  • 2018: 0.2 percent
  • 2013: 7.2 percent
  • 2006: 6.3 percent.

In 2018, there were no other residual responses remaining in the data. Responses that could not be classified or did not provide the type of information asked for were replaced by data derived from the sources described above. In recent previous censuses, ‘not-stated’ was the only remaining residual category.

2013 Census data user guide provides more information about non-response in the 2013 Census.

Data quality processes

Overall quality rating: High quality

Data was evaluated to assess whether it meets quality standards and is suitable for use.

Three quality metrics contributed to the overall quality rating:

  • data sources and coverage
  • consistency and coherence
  • data quality.

The lowest rated metric determines the overall quality rating.

Data quality assurance for 2018 Census provides more information on the quality rating scale.

Data sources and coverage: High quality

We have assessed the quality of all the data sources that contribute to the output for the variable. To calculate a data sources and coverage quality score for a variable, each data source is rated and multiplied by the proportion it contributes to the total output.

The rating for a valid census response is defined as 1.00. Ratings for other sources are the best estimates available of their quality relative to a census response. Each source that contributes to the output for that variable is then multiplied by the proportion it contributes to the total output. The total score then determines the metric rating according to the following range:

  • 98–100 = very high
  • 95–<98 = high
  • 90–<95 = moderate
  • 75–<90 = poor
  • <75 = very poor.

Admin data was mostly comparable to 2018 census responses, while data sourced through statistical imputation was moderately comparable to census forms. The high proportion of data from received forms and admin sources in comparison to the low proportion sourced from statistical imputation contributed to the score of 0.95, determining the high quality rating.

Quality rating calculation table for the sources of personal income –
2018 census usually resident population aged 15 years and over
Source Rating Percent of total Score contribution
2018 Census form 1.00 83.62 0.84
Admin data 0.72 14.07 0.10
Donor’s 2018 Census form 0.50 2.11 0.01
Donor’s response sourced from admin data 0.36 0.01 0.00
No Information 0.00 0.18 0.00
Total 100.00 0.95
Due to rounding, individual figures may not always sum to the stated total(s) or score contributions.      

Data sources, editing, and imputation in the 2018 Census has more information on the Canadian census edit and imputation system (CANCEIS) that was used to derive donor responses.

Consistency and coherence: High quality

Sources of personal income data is consistent with expectations across nearly all consistency checks, with some minor variation from expectations or benchmarks that makes sense due to real-world change, incorporation of other sources of data or a change in how the variable has been collected.

  • There was an increase in people receiving Jobseeker support. However, this is partly due to a change in benefit classifications and sourcing from Inland Revenue registers, which groups other benefits into the Jobseeker support category.

Data quality: High quality

Data has only minor data quality issues. The quality of coding and responses within classification categories is high. Any impact of other data sources used is minor. Any issues with the variable appear in a low number of cases (typically in the low hundreds).

Recommendations for use and further information

We recommend that the use of the data can be similar to its use in 2013.

However, when using this data you should be aware that:

  • data has been assessed to be consistent at the regional council level of geography. Some variation is possible at geographies below this level.

Care must also be taken when cross-tabulating census sources of personal income with total personal income:

  • people may obtain income from more than one source
  • the time reference periods are different. Sources of income collects information for 12 months ending on 6 March 2018 (census night) while total personal income relates to 12 months ending on 31 March 2018, in line with the tax year.

Comparisons with other data sources

Although there are surveys and sources other than the census that collect sources of income data, users are advised to familiarise themselves with the strengths and limitations of the sources before use:

  • census aims to account for sources of personal income for all usual residents aged 15 years and over, while other sources such as the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) and the Household Economic Survey (HES) measuring this variable are based upon only a sample of the population.
  • census includes more sources of income than the HLFS, which only collects wages and salaries, self-employment and government transfers income
  • however, both the HLFS and Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) provide more regular information on income than the census, collecting data on an annual basis.

Contact our Information Centre for further information about using this variable.

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