Published: January 13, 2020

Spallek, M., Haynes, M., Baxter, J., & Kapelle, N. (2020). The value of administrative data for longitudinal social research: a case study investigating income support receipt and relationship separation in Australia. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 1-15.


Melanie Spallek, Michelle Haynes, Nicole Kapelle, & Janeen Baxter.


In recent years, the Australian government has encouraged open access to administrative data, providing new opportunities for examining life course pathways and evaluating social policies. This paper demonstrates the importance of establishing partnerships in the use of administrative data for social research. In collaboration with the data custodian, we used administrative welfare data to investigate a policy-relevant topic: the association between income support receipt and relationship separation. Our results provided greater statistical power for detecting associations for minority groups than is possible with panel survey data, highlighting the benefits of administrative data for understanding the outcomes of population groups that are not well represented in surveys. The collaboration between university researchers and data custodians was critical to enable appropriate sharing of data for research and for accurate interpretation of the data and outcomes for relevance to policy.