Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications

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    Homelessness and Incarceration: A Reciprocal Relationship?
    Moschion, J ; Johnson, G (Springer Verlag, 2019)
    Objectives Examine whether exits from incarceration lead to homelessness and whether homelessness leads to incarceration. Methods This paper uses a unique longitudinal dataset which follows disadvantaged Australians over 2.5 years and provides very detailed information on their housing circumstances. Although studies consistently report a positive association between incarceration and homelessness, little is known about the causal relationship between them. We advance in that direction by exploiting the longitudinal dimension of our data in two ways: (i) employing individual fixed effects models to deal with time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity; (ii) lagging key independent variables to minimise reverse causality issues. Results Our results show that homelessness does not increase the risk of incarceration. In contrast, incarceration does increase the probability that an individual will become homeless, but not immediately. Exploiting details of the accommodation calendar 1-24 months after release, we find a modest immediate effect of incarceration on homelessness (a 3 percentage points increase), which increases 6 months after release (to around 12 percentage points) and persists for a further 11 months with respondents most often staying in precarious housing arrangements (boarding houses or with friends with no alternative) rather than becoming literally homelessness. Conclusions Our study shows the importance of having adequate coverage for post-release programs to break the link between incarceration and homelessness. Specifically, we find that the critical period for ex-inmates starts 6 months after release suggesting that this may be the time when support programs are currently lacking and would be most efficient.
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    Introducing 'Journeys Home'
    Wooden, MP ; Bevitt, AJ ; Chigavazira, AT ; Greer, N ; Johnson, G ; Killackey, EJ ; Moschion, J ; Scutella, R ; Tseng, Y ; Watson, N (Blackwell Publishing Inc., 2012)
    Homelessness, despite being a major social policy issue in Australia, is an area that is not well served by data. Most sorely lacking is any large-scale panel study that follows a broad sample of persons with recent experience of homelessness and unstable housing histories. In 2010, the Australian Government set about rectifying this deficiency when it commissioned the Melbourne Institute to undertake a new panel study, now known as ‘Journeys Home’. This study draws its sample from the population of Centrelink income-support recipients, targeting persons identified in the administrative data as having recent experience of homelessness, as well as others with similar characteristics who may be vulnerable to housing difficulties in the future. This article summarises the design of this new study and reports on fieldwork outcomes from the first two waves of data collection.