Youth Social Exclusion in Australian Communities: A New Index

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Working Paper

Abstract

Social exclusion and inclusion has been given a great deal of attention in Australia and throughout the world. This broader concept of disadvantage has replaced much of the social discourse around poverty and inequality, with the realisation from researchers, practitioners and policy makers that disadvantage is often a multi-dimensional occurrence, spanning many dimensions of an individual’s life. Despite the attention social exclusion has been given, particular population groups are often overlooked – particularly young people. A growing interest in the power of geographic data and the prevalence of social exclusion, has lead the authors to develop the first nation-wide geographically disaggregated index of youth social exclusion for Australia. A number of domains and indicators deemed important to youth wellbeing were identified and constructed to develop a comprehensive index of youth social exclusion for young people aged 15-19 years. Using specialised data from the 2011 Census, supplemented with national school assessment data, we use a domains approach to construct an index that is representative of youth at risk of social exclusion, using a combination of principal components and equal weighting techniques. Particular attention is paid to ‘youth’ as an important stage of life in its own right and the implications of the delayed transition into adulthood that is now seen in many developed nations. Many more young people now remain as dependent children well into their twenties. A final index of youth social exclusion across Australian communities is presented and discussed.

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