Much comparative analysis in social policy uses ‘snapshots’ of what different kinds of households receive and contribute in a given year. But household and individual circumstances change over time. Some changes happen as life takes its course: for example, children begin life as receivers, but grow up, leave school, start work and become net contributors in the tax-transfer system. The life course perspective offers a powerful corrective to many of the myths of the welfare state, both in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Peter Whiteford focuses on John Hills' findings in Hills' acclaimed book Good Times, Bad Times: The Welfare Myth of Them and Us in part 3 of an 8-part series in the Australian Review of Public Affairs.