Welfare Dependency or Inherited Disadvantage?

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Why is it that in Australia today, the family in which you are born still largely determines your chances in life Families are key components in the transmission of disadvantage between generations and over the life course, and family background plays a central role in determining the adult outcomes of young people in countries like Australia with high income inequality. Social disadvantage tends to be concentrated in low income communities, is highly likely to reproduce across generations within families, and is prevalent within specific marginal social groups, including Indigenous Australians and migrants. The growing divide between high and low income earners is the top risk facing Australia and many other nations over the next ten years (World Economic Forum 2012), making the lottery of one’s birth a crucial factor determining disadvantage and the key locus of reversing social inequality for the benefit of future generations.

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