The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: Sample Design: LSAC Technical Paper Number 1

Carol Soloff, David Lawrence, Robert Johnstone

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Growing Up in Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (also known as LSAC), is funded by the Department of Family and Community Services as part of the Australian Government’s Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, and is Australia’s first national longitudinal study of children. This paper outlines the full details of the sample design for this cross-sequential study comprising two 12-month age cohorts (infants and children aged 4-5 years olds).

With facilitation by the Australian Government Department of Family and Community Services, the Health Insurance Commission agreed that the sample could be selected from the Medicare database, the most comprehensive database of Australia’s population. Data collection for Wave 1 of the study was undertaken by I-view, a social market research company, in conjunction with Colmar Brunton Social Research, a social research agency working in the government and not-for-profit sector.

A clustered design, based on postcodes, was chosen as it allows community level effects to be measured and analysed, and also allows for reasonably cost effective face-to-face interviewing. Every effort was made to ensure that the sample chosen would be as representative as possible of Australia’s infants and 4-5 year olds.

A two-stage clustered design was employed, first selecting postcodes then children, allowing analysis of children within communities. Children in both cohorts were selected from the same 311postcodes. An average of 40 children per postcode in the larger states and 20 children per postcode in the smaller states and territories participating in the study.

Stratification was used to ensure proportional geographic representation for
states/territories and capital city statistical division/rest of state areas. Postcodes were selected with probability proportional to size selection where possible, and with equal probability for small population postcodes.

Children were selected with approximately equal chance of selection for each child (about one in 25). Due to excessive data collection costs, some remote postcodes were excluded from the design, and the population estimates have been adjusted accordingly.

The selection of children and corresponding fieldwork occurred in 4 phases. This was done to enable sample selection of children born across all months of the calendar year, to attempt to reduce the age range of children at interview, and also because some of the target population had not been born at the time of the first phase selection.

The sample design was developed in collaboration with the LSAC Consortium’s
Sampling Design Team. The design posed a number of challenges and a brief rationale behind each design feature is included in this paper. For further information on the rationale for any design aspect, contact In addition, any comment on this paper is welcome.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2005


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