The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey


The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey was announced in the 1999-2000 Budget by the Australian Government with the first collection of data occurring in 2001. Further funding was provided in the 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2007-08 Budgets. The HILDA survey was made an ongoing project in the 2007-08 Budget and the survey has to date contracted a total of sixteen annual waves of data collection.


The primary objective of the HILDA Survey is to support research questions falling within three broad areas: 

  • income dynamics - with a particular focus on how households respond to policy changes aimed at improving financial incentives, and interactions between changes in family status and poverty
  • labour market dynamics - with a focus on low-to-middle income households, female participation, and work to retirement transitions and
  • family dynamics - focusing on family formation, well-being and separation, along with post-separation arrangements for children and links between income support and family formation and dissolution.


HILDA covers a range of topics including, but not limited to, such things as: life satisfaction, health outcomes, fertility, neighbourhood characteristics, time usage and work-family balance.

The HILDA Survey has a longitudinal design, so most questions are repeated each year.  Nevertheless, within each survey wave, scope exists for asking questions on topics that will not be covered every year. The main additional topics to date are as follows:

  • Wave 2 – Household wealth
  • Wave 3 – Retirement and plans for retirement
  • Wave 4 – Private health insurance, and youth
  • Wave 5 – Fertility and partnering, personality, household expenditure, intentions and plans
  • Wave 6 – Household wealth
  • Wave 7 – Retirement and plans for retirement, diet, smoking history and literacy and numeracy 
  • Wave 8 – Fertility and partnering
  • Wave 9 – Immigration settlement, private health insurance, health and diet
  • Wave 10 – Household wealth, intentions and plans, non co-residential relationships
  • Wave 11 – Fertility and partnering
  • Wave 12 – Human capital, retirement and literacy and numeracy

Detailed information on survey content is available in the HILDA online user manual.

Parties involved

The HILDA Survey is funded by the Australian Government and managed by the HILDA Survey Section in the Department of Social Services (DSS).

The design, development and conduct of the HILDA survey has been contracted to the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. The principal investigator for the survey is Professor Mark Wooden from the Melbourne Institute. The fieldwork for waves 1-8 was sub-contracted to the Nielsen Company. Roy Morgan Research has been sub-contracted to undertake the fieldwork for Waves 9-16.


So far, the first 11 years, or waves, of survey data have been collected and collated, with Wave 1 data being collected between August and December 2001, and released in October 2002.

Wave 12 data is being released in December 2013. The collection of Wave 13 data began in August 2013 with an anticipated release in December 2014. Subsequent waves follow this pattern.

More details on the survey

In depth information about the HILDA survey is available from the dedicated website: The University of Melbourne. This information includes:

  • HILDA Annual Reports
  • project timing
  • survey instruments
  • discussion and technical papers on survey design, data quality, weighting and imputation
  • a comprehensive bibliography of research papers that use HILDA data.

There are also contact details and an email discussion/information group (HILDA-L) which you can join.

Getting access to HILDA data

The HILDA data is available to approved researchers either under Individual or Organisational licencing arrangements. Researchers interested in applying for the data whose Organisation has been approved an Organisational Deed of License will contact their Data Manager for the Deed of Confidentiality. Individual researchers, whose organisation has not entered into an Organisational Licensing arrangement, will need to complete an Individual License.

For more information on applying for the data please email

Applying for an Organisational Deed of Licence

Before applying, organisations should refer to the DSS Fact Sheets. These Fact Sheets contain a full explanation of organisational licensing arrangements and the responsibilities of Data Managers and users of DSS datasets. 

Fact Sheets

A brief summary of organisational licensing arrangements:

  • A Delegate from the organisation signs an Organisational Deed of Licence on behalf of the organisation.  Please note that Commonwealth Departments and Government Agencies complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Researchers from an approved organisation who require access to the data will complete a shorter Deed of Confidentiality.
  • The Delegate must nominate a Data Manager who will be responsible for managing access to the dataset by users in the organisation and liaising with the Melbourne Institute (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia), the Australian Institute of Family Studies (Longitudinal Study of Australian Children) and the Department of Social Services (Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children and all other general enquiries).
  • A payment of $330.00 is charged for each release of data. This fee is charged when the first application for each release from each survey from the organisation is approved by DSS.
  • Once the fee is paid to the relevant survey manager, any number of users from the organisation who complete a Deed of Confidentiality and have been authorised by DSS can access that release without charge.
  • A release includes all previous waves of the data, for example the HILDA General Release 12 dataset contains Waves 1­–12.
  • All data users are obliged to meet security requirements.  
  • Organisations are not permitted to use the data for commercial purposes.

Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF)

The Cross-National Equivalent File contains equivalently defined variables for the following panel studies:

  • Panel Study of Income Dynamics
  • German Socio-Economic Panel
  • British Household Panel Study
  • Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics
  • Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA)
  • Swiss Household Panel
  • Korea Labor Income Panel Study
  • Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey – Higher School of Economics

The data is designed to allow cross-national researchers not experienced in panel data analysis to access a simplified version of these panels, while providing experienced panel data users with guidelines for formulating equivalent variables across countries. Most importantly, the equivalent file provides a set of constructed variables (for example pre- and post-government income and international household equivalence weights) that are not directly available on the original surveys.  

More information on the CNEF can be found at:

Ordering the HILDA-CNEF

Access to the HILDA-CNEF data is achieved by completing a Deed of Licence - CNEF PDF [88KB].  Researchers who already have approval to access other datasets under an Organisational Deed of Licence will still need to complete this form to gain access to the CNEF data. To apply for the HILDA-CNEF, complete the application form and forward to . DSS will email the researcher to let them know whether permission for access to the dataset has been granted. DSS will also inform the CNEF team at Ohio State University.

Please be advised that it is the responsibility of the researcher to contact the CNEF team at Ohio State University ( to organise payment prior to being sent the CNEF datasets.

Ohio State University provides users with a set of CDs containing all of the CNEF datasets. Each of the datasets in the CNEF may only be accessed with a password.

DSS has been informed that the cost for obtaining the set of CDs with all of the CNEF datasets is $125US but advises users to check this.

Users are permitted to use the HILDA-CNEF Dataset on CD ROM / DVD off organisational premises but must comply with the security requirements in their Deed.

Content Updated: 7 November 2013