Productivity Commission Inequality Report 2018

How did we have impact?

The 2018 report followed a previous Productivity Commission report on inequality published in 2013, which provided impetus for the establishment of the Life Course Centre in 2014. It was therefore gratifying to see our research represented so strongly throughout the latest report. Our impact on this report showcases how Life Course Centre research, including our pre-publication Working Paper Series, is informing and influencing key non-academic audiences, and shaping national policy discussions in line with the Centre’s mission.

To have our research so heavily cited in a high-profile report on inequality from one of Australia’s most influential government bodies is a significant achievement.

Our research

A diverse range of Life Course Centre research is cited throughout the Productivity Commission’s Rising inequality? A stocktake of the evidence report, published in August 2018. The report brings together the latest and most complete evidence measuring the prevalence of, and trends in, inequality, economic mobility, poverty and disadvantage in Australian society. A selection of Life Course Centre research cited in the report includes:

Herault, N., Azpitarte, F. and Johnson, G. 2017, What is the real extent of poverty persistence?, presented at the Brown Bag Seminar, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, 7 November.

The report

The Productivity Commission report highlights that the problem of persistent disadvantage remains unaddressed in Australia. It estimates the rate of poverty in Australia at about 9% (or 2.2 million people), despite three decades of uninterrupted economic growth. “It has varied a bit throughout that period but today, for 2 million or so people, we are where we were 30 years ago,” Productivity Commission Chair Peter Harris said. “It is not the same 2 million, as the mobility data shows, but the proportion of our society apparently doing very poorly should have reduced over that 30 years.”

The report identifies people living in single parent families, the unemployed, disabled and Indigenous Australians as particularly likely to experience disadvantage, in the forms of poverty, material deprivation, and social exclusion. For these people, there is an elevated risk of disadvantage becoming deeply entrenched, with the risks highest for children living in jobless households. The report concludes that entrenched disadvantage will not be addressed by economic growth and education policies alone, but will also require the fashioning of ‘hand-made’ housing and health policies to meet specific needs.


The Productivity Commission’s Rising inequality? A stocktake of the evidence report (August, 2018)