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Find out more about Standards

Click on View all Social Standards if you would like to view a full listing of social standards. Click on View all Economic Standards if you would like to view a full listing of economic standards. Click on International Standards if you would like to view international standards referenced by the ABS.


Social Standards

Social standards are a set of guidelines. They specify how data for household surveys are collected, processed, and released. They document how the ABS:

  • Defines the variable
    • associated concepts and definitions used
  • Collects data on the variable
    • coding structure
    • statistical units
    • question modules
  • Processes the data
    • classification
    • editing
  • Presents the data

Occasionally ABS surveys use 'departures' from preferred social standards where there is strong justification. In these cases a survey area is permitted to deviate from a particular component of the standard. As a result, some survey questions may ‘depart’ from the guidelines specified.

Economic Standards

The ABS does not have standards for economic surveys like those used for social surveys. The ABS uses a range of sources to provide economic standards:

  • The System of National Accounts, developed by the United Nations, provides an over-arching framework outlining how to compile measures of economic activity.


  • There are a range of other international and national economic standards such as Balance of Payments Manual, Australian System of Government Finance Statistics and International Merchandise Trade Australia.


  • Economic surveys are required to use approved Standard Question Wording. This is a suite of approved questions to collect financial information from businesses. Adherence to Standard Question Wording is important because it promotes consistency between surveys and data coherence.

ABS Forms Design Standards

The ABS also has standards for developing self administered surveys (paper and electronic) and computer assisted interviewing (CAI).

View the ABS Forms Design Standards Manual here.


For more information, contact the Standards and Classifications Section: standards@abs.gov.au


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