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Research Using Administrative Data to Support the Work of the Expert Panel on Modernising Child, Youth and Family

Appendix 4: Family welfare history diagram

The diagram in Appendix Figure 2 separates out those children (from the 1993 cohort) whose families were not supported by welfare at the child's birth (left hand side of graph) and those who were supported by welfare at the child's birth (right hand side of graph.)

Each of these groups is then split successively into separate branches depending on whether their family was on welfare for at least 25 per cent of the time while they were aged 0 to 4 years old, 5 to 12 years old and then 13 to 17 years old. The location of each grouping illustrates the percentage who are “on track” at 21. Hence the figure shows the likelihood of being on track at 21 given a family's particular pattern of welfare receipt.

Appendix Figure 2 - Family welfare history and adult outcomes
Appendix Figure 2 - Family welfare history and adult outcomes.

Appendix Figure 2 shows:

  • Higher “on track at 21” rates for those with no history of being supported by welfare at birth or during their childhood and that this is by far the largest sub-group.
  • Relatively even negative slopes for those who experience welfare at all ages from pre-school to high school, regardless of the extent of welfare in their lives up to that point (i.e. the slopes of the branches are reasonably similar when comparing them with others above or below them in the diagram).
  • Smaller but (generally) consistent negative slopes for those with periods of welfare later in childhood (ie, the slopes of the branches get progressively smaller when comparing them with others to the right of them in the diagram).
  • Those with two or more terms of welfare support have lower “on track” rates compared to those without multiple terms of welfare support.

At this point it is important to emphasise that in using welfare support as a “risk factor” we are pointing to its interpretation as a proxy for adverse events that may have led the family to need welfare support from the state. However the intention of welfare support will have been to help buffer the family from the worst impacts of these events and their consequent exposure to periods of very low income. This (presumably) beneficial effect is also reflected in moderating the sizes of the slopes of the branches in this graph from what they would have otherwise been.

Appendix Table 5 contains the data that is used to create the graph.

Appendix Table 5 - Proportion “on track at 21” within each family welfare pathway
  Proportion on track at 21    
    Supported by benefit
25% of time (age 0-4)?
Supported by benefit
25% of time (age 5-12)?
Supported by benefit
25% of time (age 13-17)?
Number on track Number in cohort
Not supported by benefit at birth 79.1% No
83.1%
No
84.3%
No      84.8% 27867 32859
Yes      71.8% 900 1254
Yes
70.5%
No      74.5% 1392 1869
Yes      65.3% 942 1443
Yes
58.7%
No
70.7%
No      71.5% 1401 1959
Yes      62.7% 126 201
Yes
53.7%
No      59.3% 1497 2526
Yes      48.4% 1272 2628
Supported by benefit at birth 53.3% No
73.0%
No
74.6%
No      75.5% 729 966
Yes      64.0% 48 75
Yes
64.8%
No      62.8% 81 129
Yes      67.9% 57 84
Yes
50.9%
No
61.6%
No      62.1% 1389 2235
Yes      57.7% 168 291
Yes
47.4%
No      54.1% 1755 3246
Yes      42.6% 1941 4557
Appendix Figure 3: Subset of family welfare diagram - Children supported by benefit at birth
Appendix Figure 3: Subset of family welfare diagram - Children supported by benefit at birth.

Appendix Figure 3 is an extract from Appendix Figure 2 which illustrates family welfare pathways for the 1993 cohort. Focussing on the group of children supported by benefit at birth, but whose families subsequently have less time supported by benefit (green pathway), we see higher rates of being ‘on track at 21' (76%), in fact quite close to the cohort's overall average of 77%. Those children whose families have significant time on benefit consistently through the child's life, have much lower ‘on track at 21' rates (43%).

Unpicking the data in this way can help us see the potential of policies that target at different times in children's lives. Always, of course, bearing mind that we are not inferring that the spells on benefit caused poorer outcomes, but rather highlighting the potential of identifying possible groups to target (and when in their lives) for the provision of better social services.

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