26 September 2023

Research finds one day ‘Census’ not enough

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The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) has unveiled the results of its census research to help all Agencies of the Public Service drive survey participation.

Releasing its report Counting on us: How start dates affect Census participation, BETA said the research explored how different wording affected the way in which people complete the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Census of Population and Housing.

“Leading up to the 2021 Census, the ABS wanted to encourage more people to participate,” the BETA said.

“They partnered with BETA to test whether providing people with a ‘response window’ or a number of days to complete the Census is more effective than capturing data on a single ‘Census night’,” it said.

“They also tested how long the response window should be, and how to best communicate it to respondents.”

BETA said it tested two response windows in the Census invitation letter, a ‘complete between’ response window of one week and a ‘complete now’ response window.

It said the overall completion rate for both response windows was similar, however, there was a difference in when households started and completed their survey.

“Those who received the ‘complete now’ letter were more likely to commence the Census Test sooner,” the Team said.

“This effectively spread responses out over a longer period, reducing the administrative burden associated with collecting many responses on a single night,” it said.

“While the next Census is not until 2026, the findings from this study may help organisations drive participation in similar engagement activities,” the BETA team said.

BETA’s 19-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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