Young Australians and social inclusion

24 Oct 2011

This paper examines the relationships between parental and family characteristics, including a history of dependence on income support, on a diverse set of indicators of social inclusion among young Australians.

The data contain a large group of young people who might be considered at great risk of social exclusion–young people who grew up in families with extensive experience of living on government-provided income support. The authors compare a set of social inclusion measures for this group with those for young people from less disadvantaged backgrounds, to gauge how the at-risk group was faring.

The employment, education participation and family and community–connectedness measures were all poorer in the at-risk group than the less disadvantaged group. For composite measures of the social inclusion indicators, these differences were partially explained by the relative socioeconomic status of the parents, the characteristics of the family structure, parental decisions to invest in their children and attitudinal variables. However, after controlling for all of these factors, the effect of exposure to income support was not completely eliminated, though the inclusion of schooling experience indicators, such as the incidence of suspensions and expulsions, school attendance patterns and participation in after-school activities, substantially reduced the lasting effect of prolonged income support exposure when growing up.


Authors: Chris Ryan and Anastasia Sartbayeva, Social Policy Evaluation, Analysis, and Research (SPEAR) Centre, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University


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