Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (commonly known by its acronym, SEIFA) is a product that enables the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. The indexes have been created by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the national statistical agency. The source of the data is derived from the five-yearly Census of Population and Housing, and is calculated using principal component analysis.
Domains and variables
First produced in 1971, SEIFA is primarily used to rank areas according to socio-economic advantage and disadvantage based on census data. The census variables used cover a number of domains and include household income, education, employment, occupation, housing and other indicators of advantage and disadvantage. Combined, the indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measuring one of the domains in isolation. SEIFA consists of four indexes, each being a summary of a different set of census variables:
|1.||Index of Advantage / Disadvantage||A composite index where lower scores indicate more disadvantaged areas and higher scores indicate more advantaged areas.
This index is constructed using a number of different variables that indicate both advantage (i.e. high income, having a degree qualification) and disadvantage (i.e. unemployment status, low income, not enough bedrooms)
|2.||Index of Disadvantage||Identifies areas with lower educational attainment, people in low-skilled occupations, low employment and other indicators of disadvantage.
This index ranks areas from most disadvantaged to least disadvantaged
|3.||Index of Economic Resources||Includes variables such as rent paid, income by family type, mortgage payments and rental properties|
|4.||Index of Education and Occupation||Includes education and occupation variables|
Principal Component Analysis is used to create SEIFA. This method creates a summary measure of a group of variables, in this case related to socio-economic advantage and disadvantage.
In a paper presented by the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy at the Australian Population Association 2004 conference, it was claimed that SEIFA was not an accurate measure of social and economic disadvantage for indigenous Australians, especially where SEIFA is used at a small area level, and the populations or households in each area are relatively homogeneous.
SEIFA is published every five years. Formerly available only to subscribers, SEIFA was made available for free on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website after changes in legislation relating to all Australian Bureau of Statistics electronic products in 2005-06. SEIFA is used by federal, state and local government agencies as well as community and business groups. The most recent issue is based on the 2011 Australian census which was released in March 2013.
- "2039.0 - Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006". 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Pink, Brian (Australian Statistician) (26 March 2008). "Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) - Technical Paper" (PDF). Australian Bureau of Statistics. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Kennedy, Bryan; Firman, David (September 2004). "Indigenous SEIFA – revealing the ecological fallacy" (PDF). Canberra, Australia: Australian Population Association. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- "2011.0.55.001 - Information Paper: Census of Population and Housing -- Products and Services, 2011". 2011 Australian Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2011 – on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website
- Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2011 – Frequently Asked Questions, SEIFA 2011