Evidence of Multiple Life Stage Disadvantage for Small Areas in Australia


  • This paper has been funded by a Discovery Grant from the Australian Research Council (DP0664429).

Robert Tanton, National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email: robert.tanton@natsem.canberra.edu.au


Intergenerational disadvantage has been defined as “disadvantage induced by the attitudes, social circumstances or economic limitations of a person’s parents (Vinson, 2009, p. 1). This disadvantage could be in terms of poverty, labour force or lack of access to opportunities that other children may have. One of the limitations of this concept is that it only takes into account direct family, so it is only how a person’s parents affect their disadvantage. However, evidence suggests that the local community also affects disadvantage, and that disadvantage tends to cluster. The obvious question that this paper tries to answer is do areas with high levels of disadvantage have high levels of disadvantage for all age groups in the area? Or are there areas where a high proportion of disadvantaged elderly people and a low proportion of disadvantage children live? And where are these areas (e.g. rural/regional areas, capital cities, inner urban areas). Answering this question will give some idea of which areas have entrenched disadvantage, so disadvantage that covers a number of life stages. It is these areas where broad policies to reduce disadvantage for everyone are important, rather than targeted policies to reduce disadvantage for children or the elderly. This paper finds that remote areas suffer the greatest proportion of people in areas where there are four life stages disadvantaged, and urban areas have the most people in areas where no life stages are in disadvantage. This does suggest that the Government should be concentrating on efforts to reduce multiple life stage disadvantage in remote areas.