The Anvil of Socio-Economics

I wished for things but instead got anvil dropped on my head by Craig Freeman 2013

My family is brilliant.  I say that without vanity or ego. I am speaking of my mother’s family who are placed quite firmly in the middle of my research proposal. This is not out of any misguided sense of pride, as many don’t speak to each other or to me. They are quite simply intellectually brilliant.  My mother is the eldest of nine children, herself a teacher; among the rest are an engineer; a nurse; a policeman; an accountant; a scientist; a priest, a finance executive and an electrician.  All of them grew up poor and today none of them are wealthy by Australian standards.  They have never been able to translate their superior intellect to financial success.  When I questioned my uncle today at Easter lunch, his thoughtful answer cited factors such as a lack of confidence and ‘that we just don’t speak their language’.  These are very loose but valid ideas. What happens when we push the idea further?  Is the inability to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ of financial success after being raised in poverty, an Australian experience? The idea inspired me to look further into, how influential is childhood poverty as a predictor of future financial success?

When looking at child poverty and its effect on upward mobility the research would have to establish a benchmark of what is classified poverty.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics discusses how the first systematic approach to classifying poverty was the Hendersen Poverty Line.  The Hendersen Line was created in the mid 1960’s by a group of researchers at the Institute for Applied Economic and Social research at Melbourne University. (ABS) (1996) Classifying poverty is always problematic due to the number of variables, such as cost of living.  As well as what the ‘normal’ standard of living is in a specific country. Hendersen scale is also created using a two adult, two child model with a fixed weekly income plus benefits (ABS) (1996) which is not necessarily relevant in a world where this family model does not form an unwavering majority.  So for the purposes of the proposed research report I will be using the Index of Socioeconomic Disadvantage as referred to by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. (ABS)(2006)

As we are bound by the rules of research as students of the University of Wollongong, I would be unable to engage in any methods for data collection such as surveys or focus groups.  My research on this matter will rely on a range of published papers for my research as well as data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the United Nations.  The United Nations formalised their interest in the children of developed countries in their Innocenti Report Card in the year 2000.  It gives an analysis of child poverty across industrialised nations.(UNICEF) (2000)


Image from photographer unknown

A great deal of academic research has been done on the topic of child poverty and it’s effects, from other countries such as the USA and the United Kingdom. In both cases the population is larger than Australia and the conditions will differ.  The positive side of using research from similarly industrialised countries of this size, is that the data is from a larger sample, and therefore possibly has a higher degree of accuracy, depending how the study was constructed. These papers are useful in gaining insight into the upward mobility of children who have grown up in poverty. An example of these papers are Childhood and Intergenerational Poverty: The Long-Term Consequences of Growing Up Poor by Robert Lee Wagmiller and Robert M Adelman published in 2009 for the National Center for Children in Poverty.

For my research I do intend to narrow my field to Australia or New South Wales.  As I am not a quantitative researcher, the research will be reliant on conclusions drawn by the Department of Housing NSW (FACS – Housing) and the Department of Community Services (FACS) which used Census information for the Bureau of Statistics for their data.  An example of this is the FACS Policy Research Paper No.20 , Child Poverty: a review.  This policy research document says in chapter 2.1 Does money matter for children’s outcomes?  ‘there is ample evidence that shows a strong association between childhood living standards and later outcomes,’. (FACS) (2003) The report goes on to explore the evidence regarding how influential is childhood poverty as a predictor of future financial success.

As I have personal connections inside of the Benevolent Society and Junctions Works, two local Non-Government Organisations. I will also try to see if these organisations who work within the welfare field gather any alternate insight and data about how influential childhood poverty in in predicting future financial success and if so, where I can access their data or the data that is used for their strategic models of tackling childhood poverty, and a clear answer to why they consider it a priority.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 1996, Poverty and Deprivation in Australia 1996, cat. no.1301.0
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006, Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006, cat.2039.0
United Nations Childrens Emergency Fund (UNICEF) 2000, ‘A League Table of Child Poverty in Rich Nations’, Innocenti Report Card,2000, no. 1
Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) 2006, Child Poverty: a Review, Policy Research Paper No.20
Robert Lee Wagmiller, Robert M. Adelman 2009, ‘Childhood and Intergenerational Poverty: The Long-Term Consequences of Growing Up Poor’, Columbia University Academic Commons,
Freeman, Craig 2013, Image of I Wished for Things but Got Instead, an Anvil dropped Upon My Head Mr Fakie 3 February, view 27 March 2016, <;.



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