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2.3  Caveats

The data presented in Insights was developed by linking administrative information across government agencies. This data will not always be accurate. This may be of particular concern when such data is presented at a very detailed level. In some cases information for one person may be incorrectly linked to information for a different person, while in other cases information may be missing or incorrect.

While the results highlight the power of using integrated administrative data in new and innovative ways, some of the methods are exploratory in nature. Caution should be taken in interpreting the results of any detailed analysis undertaken using Insights. Population coverage errors, linkage errors and biases present mean that detailed results should not be viewed as necessarily being highly accurate.

All data sources have quality issues which need to be considered as the data is used. Some issues are particularly relevant to the data used in this study.

  • The scope of the data is limited by the nature and breadth of the information collected in agencies' administrative systems and included in the IDI. For example: administrative data provides only a partial picture of childhood adversity, service use and service costs; and education data does not always capture the date an enrolment ends.
  • The methods used to estimate future outcomes and costs are designed to provide a comparative picture of future outcomes and costs for different population subgroups, but they have some significant limitations, as discussed in McLeod et al. (2015) and Ball et al. (2016). These estimates should be viewed as indicative, and not as forecasts of the actual outcomes and costs that will be incurred in the future.
  • Geographical location is derived from administrative information held by government agencies. In some cases this data may be inaccurate or out of date, and individuals may be allocated to areas in which they don't reside as a result. The quality of geographical information in the IDI is discussed in detail in Gibb and Das (2015).
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