Children at risk of social exclusion: methodology and overview

Children Risk Australia

This paper by Robert Tanton, Ann Harding, Anne Daly, Justine McNamara and Mandy Yap, reports on recent work conducted by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) on an area index measuring Australian children who are at risk of being in social exclusion. This is done at a regional level (Statistical Local Area). Social exclusion is taken to mean that the child's family suffers a number of aspects of disadvantage. Being at risk of social exclusion does not mean the child suffers social exclusion; it means children in the SLA have a higher risk of being in social exclusion. The method we have used to summarise a number of social exclusion variables is principal components analysis. This is a method used for a number of summary measures of disadvantage, such as the ABS SEIFA index (ABS 2003) and the NZ Indexes of deprivation (Salmond and Crampton 2002). We have split children into two groups, those aged 0 - 4 and those aged 5 - 15. This is because we think different factors may affect each of these groups. We have then created an index for the risk of social exclusion. We expected these indexes to be quite similar to the ABS SEIFA indexes. A focus of interest is the ways in which they diverge from the SEIFA indexes - that is, where these indexes provide different information, due to the fact that they are for children only. This divergence is investigated in this paper. We find that the indexes are significantly correlated with the ABS SEIFA indexes. The ABS SEIFA indexes use similar variables to our indexes but are calculated for all persons, not just children, and are calculated for Collection Districts and aggregated to SLAs. This high correlation does suggest that many high risk areas for children in social exclusion are also disadvantaged areas. Despite the high correlation, we found that the Child social exclusion index was different enough from the SEIFA indexes to provide additional information on child social exclusion.

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