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Aerial photo showing children's and adult's shadows on the pavement. Image: Tom Barrett on Unsplash.
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ARC funding will help researchers better understand disadvantage

15 November 2019
Linkage Project will analyse welfare across generations
Sydney researchers have received an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project grant to study how social assistance dependence is linked across generations using Australian Centrelink data.

Professor Deborah Cobb-Clark, Dr Hayley Fisher and Dr Sarah Dahmann from the School of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have received a $328,000 ARC Linkage Project grant to investigate the causes, pathways, and consequences of intergenerational disadvantage.

Working with the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services, the project will identify the casual link between parents’ and children’s social assistance dependence, the pathways through which young people overcome disadvantage, and the role of family structure in transmitting disadvantage.

Lead Chief Investigator, Professor Cobb-Clark said the ARC Linkage Project grant provides an opportunity to sustain and strengthen a long-standing research relationship with the Department of Social Services that dates back to 2000 with a related ARC-funded project.

“Our partnership with the Department presents a unique opportunity to construct a database containing more than 200 million records for more than 825,000 individuals, linked to in-depth survey data of parents and youth,” said Professor Cobb-Clark.

“As the project will be developed in partnership with the Department, the results from our research will help directly inform the future development of social assistance policy to achieve meaningful change for disadvantaged families and enhance the equality of opportunity.”

Chief Investigator Dr Sarah Dahmann said the project aims to prevent poor Australian children from becoming poor adults by developing scientific evidence and creative policy approaches.

“The three-year grant will allow us to dig deeply into the data to not only document the patterns of intergenerational disadvantage but also to understand the pathways young people use to overcome disadvantage, and how the design of welfare payments influences these relationships,” said Dr Dahmann.

“The database we’re developing in partnership with the Department will not only benefit our own research but provide a valuable enduring data source for the scientific community at large.”

In addition to working with Dr Nicolás Salamanca from the University of Melbourne as a team of four Chief Investigators, the Sydney researchers will work with three additional Partner Investigators including Susan Kluth from the Department of Social Services, Professor Anne C. Gielen from Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam and Dr Kai Liu from the University of Cambridge.

Professor Cobb-Clark, Dr Fisher and Dr Dahmann are all members of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.  

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