Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Australian Productivity Commission looks at deep and persistent disadvantage

Excerpt from the Australian Productivity Commission’s report Deep and Persistent Disadvantage in Australia 11 July 2013:

Key points

• Australia has experienced two decades of economic growth and rising average
incomes, but some in the community continue to be ‘left behind’.

• Disadvantage is a multi-dimensional concept. It is about ‘impoverished lives’
(including a lack of opportunities), not just low income. Poverty, deprivation,
capabilities and social exclusion are different lenses to view and measure

• A number of researchers produce estimates of the extent of disadvantage in
Australia. Each relies on contestable assumptions and thresholds.

• Around 5 per cent of Australians aged 15 plus are estimated to have experienced deep social exclusion in 2010, fewer than in 2001 (7 per cent). The rate of very deep exclusion was stable at around 1 per cent (Social Exclusion Monitor).

• Fewer people experience ongoing disadvantage — 3 per cent of Australians
experienced deep social exclusion for five or more years (between 2001 and 2010)
and just under 1 per cent for seven or more years.

• People who are more likely to experience deep and persistent disadvantage include: lone parents; Indigenous Australians; people with a long-term health condition or disability; and people with low educational attainment. Many are public housing tenants and are weakly attached to the labour market.

• Disadvantage has its roots in a complex interplay of factors. Many of these factors, when combined, can have a compounding effect. The probability that any one person will experience disadvantage is influenced by: their personal capabilities and family circumstances; the support they receive; the community where they live (and the opportunities it offers); life events; and the broader economic and social

• A child’s earliest years fundamentally shape their life chances. Gaps in capabilities between children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families and their more advantaged peers appear early in life. Starting school ‘behind the eight ball’ can begin a cycle of disadvantage that sets a trajectory for poorer outcomes later in life.

• Education is a foundation capability. It improves a person’s employment prospects and earning capacity, and the evidence points to a relationship between education and better health and raised civic and social engagement.

• Employment is the route out of disadvantage for most people of working age.

• Disadvantage imposes costs on people and families who experience it and on the broader community. Only avoidable costs (reductions in disadvantage that are
realistically possible) should be included when estimating the costs of disadvantage.

• Longitudinal data is critical to understanding the dynamics of disadvantage. But
people who are most disadvantaged are often not well represented in such studies.
Administrative data has the potential to provide new knowledge to inform
researchers and policy makers about deep and persistent disadvantage.

Full report here.

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