Measuring social exclusion
Until recently income alone was used to measure disadvantage in Australia. It is now widely accepted that extending this to measure social exclusion is essential to monitor social progress and the effectiveness of government policy.
This in turn will help reduce disadvantage among Australians, improve community wellbeing and strengthen economic productivity.
How we measure social exclusion
The Brotherhood of St Laurence began collaborating with the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (MIAESR) in 2008 to find out who experiences social exclusion.
For this work we focused on seven key areas or ‘domains’ of life: material resources, employment, education and skills, health and disability, social connection, community and personal safety. Across these life domains we selected 30 key components of disadvantage that are measurable (see graph). These are called indicators of social exclusion. Using these indicators we created a composite measure that allows us to measure an individual’s overall level of exclusion.
Note: Due to problems with the availability of the financial hardship indicator for 2010, a new indicator, financial status, was added to the material resources domain. This ensured that there are at least two common indicators available every year in all the domains. The annual estimates of social exclusion for 2001–2010 included the new indicator.
To copy this graph for your own use, right-click on the image (or control-click on a Mac) and paste the graph into your document. Please credit 'The Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute 2012'.
See data table for this graph and note on updated indicators.
The data we use is from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. This is a nationally representative study of Australian households that began in 2001 (see www.melbourneinstitute.com/hilda/). The study aims to follow the same 13,000 people, aged over 15 years, who are interviewed each year about a wide range of social and economic aspects of life.
Using an annual survey like HILDA allows us to analyse changes in individual and household social exclusion over time to assess trends. We can then examine the prevalence of exclusion, its depth and persistence – and work out who experiences it. The monitor will be updated with each new wave of the HILDA survey. The lates data is from 2010.
Although it includes a wide range of data, the HILDA Survey has a few limitations. It does not collect data on homelessness, internet access, lifelong learning, voter enrolment and experiences of discrimination so these issues are not included in our key indicators.
Marginal and deep social exclusion
We classify exclusion into marginal social exclusion and deep social exclusion. For example, an individual counted as deeply excluded will most likely be experiencing at least four of the indicators across at least two domains.
Find out more
For further information about how we measure exclusion see: Rosanna Scutella, Roger Wilkins and Weiping Kostenko 2009, Estimates of poverty and social exclusion in Australia: a multi-dimensional approach, Melbourne Institute Working Paper No.26/09 (PDF file, 1.2 MB)
The social exclusion monitor is the work of the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (MIAESR). This page was updated using analysis of Wave 10 of the HILDA Survey in November 2012.