Origins Gets a New Look

Posted on August 6, 2019

As well as a brand-new web site, the Origins product has had a facelift to coincide with this year’s update of underlying name files and Australian base data.1

Currently, there are 260 categories in the Origins Classification.  The categories summarise the range of distinct name groupings we have identified during our 15 years of name research.  These CEL codes – short for Cultural, Ethnic and Linguistic – reflect the defining feature of variations to be found at the most detailed level.

Thie following chart demonstrates snippets of the detail in the classification, along with the proportion of Australia’s adult population allocated to each.

Of course, this is probably too detailed for most applications.  But it does demonstrate the granularity that can be achieved.

It also gives great flexibility in the way the codes are aggregated into meaningful broader categories.

For practical purposes we now aggregate the 260 codes, by default, to 25 categories reflecting the main cultural groups found in Australia and New Zealand.

Following, we show the default Origins 25-level Classification, again with the proportion of Australia’s adult population allocated to each.


But the Origins overhaul is more than a cosmetic refresh.  The all-new Enhanced Neighbourhood Insight feature adds further precision to Origins coding.  This is particularly important in Australia where quite a few names can be misleading.

Some family names – eg Park, Lee and Mori – are genuinely associated with more than one possible origin.  In such cases, we reference personal names and neighbourhood demographics to improve accuracy.

Other family names are more reflective of the influence of colonial powers.  People from Sri Lanka, South America and Philippines, for example, often carry Portuguese or Spanish family names such as Perera, Perez or Espinosa.  Again, personal names and the Enhanced Neighbourhood Insight feature are referenced to tweak the accuracy of the allocation.

So, we now have

  • A classification that better reflects Australia’s cultural demography for the 2020s
  • A refined process including the all-new Enhanced Neighbourhood Insight feature
  • Updated name files
  • Updated base file

All of which delivers an analytical tool with even more accurate and robust data, providing the quality evidence you need to target your investment.

1 The Australian base data reflects the Origins codes of more than 18 million adults, referenced to areas as small as the Mesh Block – a data collection unit averaging 45 households.

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