Published: October 11, 2018

Access to education improves wages, labour market outcomes, reduces youth crime and has the potential to lift people out of poverty.

This was a key message from a special workshop, ‘Education: the Panacea to Poverty?’ hosted by the Life Course Centre to mark Anti-Poverty Week 2018.

Presented by Dr Tony Beatton of The University of Queensland and Dr Matteo Sandi of the London School of Economics, the seminar highlighted the power of education to help children and families in socio-economic disadvantage.

The presenters explained the use of big data and a life course approach in providing evidence-based policy analysis, and identifying those children in the education system most at risk and in need of help.

“Education inoculates against poverty,” Tony said. “Staying on at school increases wages, gives choices, and helps reduce poverty. It is not a panacea to everything but keeping kids at school longer has positive effects after they leave school.”

Matteo said there was evidence of the positive impact of education on wages and labour market prospects, and also evidence of the positive impact of education on crime prevention.

“Crime is exactly what we don’t want from kids from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Matteo said. “By digging into the educational experience, we can try and identify who needs help and try and act from an early age.”

Tony and Matteo described their use of data on school disciplinary actions as key “flags” or “predictors” of those students who need help, in order to reduce anti-social behaviour and educational and life outcomes.

They recently published a Life Course Centre Working Paper that focusses on school indiscipline and its relationship with a propensity to commit crime outside school.

The paper, which utilises data from the Queensland Department of Education and the Queensland Police, tests the crime-reducing effect of school and finds that school decreases the possibility of juveniles to engage in crime.

You can read their Working Paper here.