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Sydney researchers helping to break the cycle of disadvantage

31 October 2019
Scholars will lead project on cognitive science of disadvantage
University of Sydney economists and health experts will spearhead a new research project that will help Australian children and families overcome the challenges of deep and persistent disadvantage.
Stock image of family made of paper dolls.

Professor Deborah Cobb-Clark, Professor Nicholas Glozier and Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula have been named Chief Investigators in the recently-announced $32.1 million Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, known as the Life Course Centre.

The Federal Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP announced funding for the Life Course Centre last week. The national centre is based at the University of Queensland, with nodes at the University of Sydney, the University of Western Australia and the University of Melbourne.

The centre will focus on developing new knowledge and solutions for Australian children and families to overcome the challenges of disadvantage.

Professor Cobb-Clark and Professor Glozier will be central to the development of pioneering work on the cognitive science of disadvantage, a major innovation in the centre’s research program that will investigate the two-way relationship between entrenched socioeconomic exclusion and the cognition, decision-making and choices needed for an increasingly complex world.

Professor Cobb-Clark from the School of Economics will lead the project on the cognitive science of disadvantage, where she will take a behavioural economics perspective on disadvantage with an emphasis on parenting, mental health and self-control.

Professor Glozier, an epidemiologist and psychiatrist with expertise in public mental health, clinical and community interventions from the Faculty of Medicine and Health, will be Program Leader for the ‘People’ research theme. 

This theme will evaluate how to alleviate the impact of mental ill-health, sleep and neurodevelopmental disorders on social, educational and vocational function, in conjuction with other nodes and teams from the Brain and Mind Centre, and how individual cognitive capacities influence policies and programs designed for the 'average person'.

Associate Professor Tymula, a leading expert in experimental, behavioural and neuroeconomics from the School of Economics, will also be a major contributor to the cognitive science of disadvantage project and the wider ‘People’ research theme, including contributing expertise in experimental design to test the relationship between cognition and the key determinants of behaviour such as risk-tolerance, patience and self-control.

Professor Cobb-Clark, Professor Glozier and Associate Professor Tymula will also contribute to other projects across the Life Course Centre’s research programs.

“The collaborations across Australia in the new centre will enable the scale of work required to understand, and intervene in, the individual, family, and community factors causing the entrenched poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and unemployment experienced by too large a minority, for whom Australia is not 'the lucky country',” the University of Sydney researchers said.

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