Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 492
Happy Birthday, You're Fired! Effects of an Age-Dependent Minimum Wage on Youth Employment Flows in the Netherlands
(SAGE Publications, 2021-01-01)
The Dutch minimum wage for workers aged 15 to 23 is defined as a stepwise increasing function of a worker’s calendar age. Using Dutch administrative records, the author shows that the birthday discontinuities of age-dependent minimum wage rates affect both labor market entry (job accessions) and labor market exit (job separations) of minimum wage workers. The job separations spike in the three months that precede workers’ birthdays, suggesting that firms are dismissing workers whose costs are about to go up. The frequency of job accessions increases immediately after the birthdays and the increase is sustained throughout the following months. The resulting effect on employment levels is dynamic, with the employment rate being subject to an initial drop that is gradually compensated for by the higher rates of post-birthday labor market entry.
China’s economy needs reform, reform, reform!
(ANU Press, 2020-01-06)
As we enter the 2020s, the Chinese economy is facing an extraordinary moment. In March, the Government Work Report for 2019 announced the Chinese government’s tasks for the year: continuing state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform, reducing restrictions on foreign investment and promoting financing and market access equality for public and private sectors.
How China is changing
(ANU Press, 2020-12-01)
For many Chinese, the Spring Festival of 2020 is one they will never forget. The holiday began as normal, with hundreds of millions travelling back to their hometowns to celebrate the lunar new year. But the country came to a standstill on 23 January, when the Chinese government locked down the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a novel coronavirus outbreak. Since then COVID-19 has spotlighted, like no other event, the importance of an ascendant China in global affairs. The response of China’s health system in the early days of the pandemic had international repercussions. China’s nationwide lockdown proved effective at containing the disease, in marked contrast with many Western democracies. China’s energetic ‘mask diplomacy’ created geopolitical waves only likely to grow in coming months as leading countries pursue ‘vaccine diplomacy’ in the developing world. China and the United States sparred over global governance at the World Health Organization.
An RCT protocol of varying financial incentive amounts for smoking cessation among pregnant women
BACKGROUND: Smoking during pregnancy is harmful to the unborn child. Few smoking cessation interventions have been successfully incorporated into standard antenatal care. The main aim of this study is to determine the feasibility of a personal financial incentive scheme for encouraging smoking cessation among pregnant women. DESIGN: A pilot randomised control trial will be conducted to assess the feasibility and potential effectiveness of two varying financial incentives that increase incrementally in magnitude ($20 vs. $40AUD), compared to no incentive in reducing smoking in pregnant women attending an Australian public hospital antenatal clinic. METHOD: Ninety (90) pregnant women who self-report smoking in the last 7 days and whose smoking status is biochemically verified, will be block randomised into one of three groups: a. No incentive control group (n=30), b. $20 incremental incentive group (n=30), and c. $40 incremental incentive group (n=30). Smoking status will be assessed via a self-report computer based survey in nine study sessions with saliva cotinine analysis used as biochemical validation. Women in the two incentive groups will be eligible to receive a cash reward at each of eight measurement points during pregnancy if 7-day smoking cessation is achieved. Cash rewards will increase incrementally for each period of smoking abstinence. DISCUSSION: Identifying strategies that are effective in reducing the number of women smoking during pregnancy and are easily adopted into standard antenatal practice is of utmost importance. A personal financial incentive scheme is a potential antenatal smoking cessation strategy that warrants further investigation. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) number: ACTRN12612000399897.
Personal factors influence use of cervical cancer screening services: epidemiological survey and linked administrative data address the limitations of previous research
BACKGROUND: National screening programs have reduced cervical cancer mortality; however participation in these programs varies according to women's personal and social characteristics. Research into these inequalities has been limited by reliance on self-reported service use data that is potentially biased, or administrative data that lacks personal detail. We address these limitations and extend existing research by examining rates and correlates of cervical screening in a large epidemiological survey with linked administrative data. METHODS: The cross-sectional sample included 1685 women aged 44-48 and 64-68 years from the Australian Capital Territory and Queanbeyan, Australia. Relative risk was assessed by logistic regression models and summary Population Attributable Risk (PAR) was used to quantify the effect of inequalities on rates of cervical cancer screening. RESULTS: Overall, 60.5% of women participated in screening over the two-year period recommended by Australian guidelines. Screening participation was associated with having children, moderate or high use of health services, employment, reported lifetime history of drug use, and better physical functioning. Conversely, rates of cervical screening were lower amongst women who were older, reliant on welfare, obese, current smokers, reported childhood sexual abuse, and those with anxiety symptoms. A summary PAR showed that effective targeting of women with readily observable risk-factors (no children, no partner, receiving income support payments, not working, obese, current smoker, anxiety, poor physical health, and low overall health service use) could potentially reduce overall non-participation in screening by 74%. CONCLUSIONS: This study illustrates a valuable method for investigating the personal determinants of health service use by combining representative survey data with linked administrative records. Reliable knowledge about the characteristics that predict uptake of cervical cancer screening services will inform targeted health promotion efforts.
The limitations of employment as a tool for social inclusion
BACKGROUND: One important component of social inclusion is the improvement of well-being through encouraging participation in employment and work life. However, the ways that employment contributes to wellbeing are complex. This study investigates how poor health status might act as a barrier to gaining good quality work, and how good quality work is an important pre-requisite for positive health outcomes. METHODS: This study uses data from the PATH Through Life Project, analysing baseline and follow-up data on employment status, psychosocial job quality, and mental and physical health status from 4261 people in the Canberra and Queanbeyan region of south-eastern Australia. Longitudinal analyses conducted across the two time points investigated patterns of change in employment circumstances and associated changes in physical and mental health status. RESULTS: Those who were unemployed and those in poor quality jobs (characterised by insecurity, low marketability and job strain) were more likely to remain in these circumstances than to move to better working conditions. Poor quality jobs were associated with poorer physical and mental health status than better quality work, with the health of those in the poorest quality jobs comparable to that of the unemployed. For those who were unemployed at baseline, pre-existing health status predicted employment transition. Those respondents who moved from unemployment into poor quality work experienced an increase in depressive symptoms compared to those who moved into good quality work. CONCLUSIONS: This evidence underlines the difficulty of moving from unemployment into good quality work and highlights the need for social inclusion policies to consider people's pre-existing health conditions and promote job quality.
Splash!: a prospective birth cohort study of the impact of environmental, social and family-level influences on child oral health and obesity related risk factors and outcomes
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2011-06-27)
BACKGROUND: Dental caries (decay) is the most prevalent disease of childhood. It is often left untreated and can impact negatively on general health, and physical, developmental, social and learning outcomes. Similar to other health issues, the greatest burden of dental caries is seen in those of low socio-economic position. In addition, a number of diet-related risk factors for dental caries are shared risk factors for the development of childhood obesity. These include high and frequent consumption of refined carbohydrates (predominately sugars), and soft drinks and other sweetened beverages, and low intake of (fluoridated) water. The prevalence of childhood obesity is also at a concerning level in most countries and there is an opportunity to determine interventions for addressing both of these largely preventable conditions through sustainable and equitable solutions. This study aims to prospectively examine the impact of drink choices on child obesity risk and oral health status. METHODS/DESIGN: This is a two-stage study using a mixed methods research approach. The first stage involves qualitative interviews of a sub-sample of recruited parents to develop an understanding of the processes involved in drink choice, and inform the development of the Discrete Choice Experiment analysis and the measurement instruments to be used in the second stage. The second stage involves the establishment of a prospective birth cohort of 500 children from disadvantaged communities in rural and regional Victoria, Australia (with and without water fluoridation). This longitudinal design allows measurement of changes in the child's diet over time, exposure to fluoride sources including water, dental caries progression, and the risk of childhood obesity. DISCUSSION: This research will provide a unique contribution to integrated health, education and social policy and program directions, by providing clearer policy relevant evidence on strategies to counter social and environmental factors which predispose infants and children to poor health, wellbeing and social outcomes; and evidence-based strategies to promote health and prevent disease through the adoption of healthier lifestyles and diet. Further, given the absence of evidence on the processes and effectiveness of contemporary policy implementation, such as community water fluoridation in rural and regional communities it's approach and findings will be extremely informative.
Western diet is associated with a smaller hippocampus: a longitudinal investigation
BACKGROUND: Recent meta-analyses confirm a relationship between diet quality and both depression and cognitive health in adults. While the biological pathways that underpin these relationships are likely multitudinous, extensive evidence from animal studies points to the involvement of the hippocampus. The aim of this study was to examine the association between dietary patterns and hippocampal volume in humans, and to assess whether diet was associated with differential rates of hippocampal atrophy over time. METHODS: Data were drawn from the Personality and Total Health Through Life Study and focused on a subsample of the cohort (n = 255) who were aged 60-64 years at baseline in 2001, completed a food frequency questionnaire, and underwent two magnetic resonance imaging scans approximately 4 years apart. Longitudinal generalized estimating equation linear regression models were used to assess the association between dietary factors and left and right hippocampal volumes over time. RESULTS: Every one standard deviation increase in healthy "prudent" dietary pattern was associated with a 45.7 mm(3) (standard error 22.9 mm(3)) larger left hippocampal volume, while higher consumption of an unhealthy "Western" dietary pattern was (independently) associated with a 52.6 mm(3) (SE 26.6 mm(3)) smaller left hippocampal volume. These relationships were independent of covariates including age, gender, education, labour-force status, depressive symptoms and medication, physical activity, smoking, hypertension and diabetes. While hippocampal volume declined over time, there was no evidence that dietary patterns influenced this decline. No relationships were observed between dietary patterns and right hippocampal volume. CONCLUSIONS: Lower intakes of nutrient-dense foods and higher intakes of unhealthy foods are each independently associated with smaller left hippocampal volume. To our knowledge, this is the first human study to demonstrate associations between diet and hippocampal volume concordant with data previously observed in animal models.
COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium): An international consortium to identify risk and protective factors and biomarkers of cognitive ageing and dementia in diverse ethnic and sociocultural groups
BACKGROUND: A large number of longitudinal studies of population-based ageing cohorts are in progress internationally, but the insights from these studies into the risk and protective factors for cognitive ageing and conditions like mild cognitive impairment and dementia have been inconsistent. Some of the problems confounding this research can be reduced by harmonising and pooling data across studies. COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium) aims to harmonise data from international cohort studies of cognitive ageing, in order to better understand the determinants of cognitive ageing and neurocognitive disorders. METHODS/DESIGN: Longitudinal studies of cognitive ageing and dementia with at least 500 individuals aged 60 years or over are eligible and invited to be members of COSMIC. There are currently 17 member studies, from regions that include Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. A Research Steering Committee has been established, two meetings of study leaders held, and a website developed. The initial attempts at harmonising key variables like neuropsychological test scores are in progress. DISCUSSION: The challenges of international consortia like COSMIC include efficient communication among members, extended use of resources, and data harmonisation. Successful harmonisation will facilitate projects investigating rates of cognitive decline, risk and protective factors for mild cognitive impairment, and biomarkers of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Extended implications of COSMIC could include standardised ways of collecting and reporting data, and a rich cognitive ageing database being made available to other researchers. COSMIC could potentially transform our understanding of the epidemiology of cognitive ageing, and have a world-wide impact on promoting successful ageing.
Longitudinal cohort study describing persistent frequent attenders in Australian primary healthcare
(BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2015-01-01)
OBJECTIVES: To describe patterns of frequent attendance in Australian primary care, and identify the prospective risk factors for persistent frequent attendance. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: This study draws on data from the Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project, a representative community cohort study of residents from the Canberra region of Australia. Participants were assessed on 3 occasions over 8 years. The survey assessed respondents' experience of chronic physical conditions, self-reported health, symptoms of common mental disorders, personality, life events, sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported medication use. A balanced sample was used in analysis, comprising 1734 respondents with 3 waves of data. The survey data for each respondent were individually linked to their administrative health service use data which were used to generate an objective measure of general practitioner (GP) consultations in the 12 months surrounding their interview date. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Respondents in the (approximate) highest decile of attenders on number of GP consultations over a 12-month period at each time point were defined as frequent attenders (FAs). RESULTS: Baseline FAs (8.4%) were responsible for 33.4% of baseline consultations, while persistent FAs (3.6%) for 15.5% of all consultations over the 3 occasions. While there was considerable movement between FA status over time, consistency was greater than expected by chance alone. While there were many factors that differentiated non-FAs from FAs in general, persistent frequent attendance was specifically associated with gender, baseline reports of depression, self-reported physical conditions and disability, and medication use. CONCLUSIONS: The degree of persistence in GP consultations was limited. The findings of this study contribute to our understanding of the risk factors that predict subsequent persistent frequent attendance in primary care. However, further detailed investigation of longitudinal patterns of frequent attendance and consideration of time-varying determinants of frequent attendance is required.
Patterns of Welfare Attitudes in the Australian Population
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-11-10)
The study of community attitudes toward welfare and welfare recipients is an area of increasing interest. This is not only because negative attitudes can lead to stigmatization and discrimination, but because of the relevance of social attitudes to policy decisions. We quantify the attitudes toward welfare in the Australian population using attitude data from a nationally representative survey (N = 3243). Although there was broad support for the social welfare system, negative attitudes are held toward those who receive welfare benefits. Using canonical correlation analysis we identify multivariate associations between welfare attitudes and respondent demographic characteristics. A primary attitudinal dimension of welfare positivity was found amongst those with higher levels of education, life instability, and personal exposure to the welfare system. Other patterns of negative welfare attitudes appeared to be motivated by beliefs that the respondent's personal circumstances indicate their deservingness. Moreover, a previously unidentified and unconsidered subset of respondents was identified. This group had positive attitudes toward receiving government benefits despite having no recent experience of welfare. They did, however, possess many of the characteristics that frequently lead to welfare receipt. These results provide insights into not only how attitudinal patterns segment across the population, but are of relevance to policy makers considering how to align welfare reform with community attitudes.
Determinants of successful clinical networks: the conceptual framework and study protocol
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2012-03-13)
BACKGROUND: Clinical networks are increasingly being viewed as an important strategy for increasing evidence-based practice and improving models of care, but success is variable and characteristics of networks with high impact are uncertain. This study takes advantage of the variability in the functioning and outcomes of networks supported by the Australian New South Wales (NSW) Agency for Clinical Innovation's non-mandatory model of clinical networks to investigate the factors that contribute to the success of clinical networks. METHODS/DESIGN: The objective of this retrospective study is to examine the association between external support, organisational and program factors, and indicators of success among 19 clinical networks over a three-year period (2006-2008). The outcomes (health impact, system impact, programs implemented, engagement, user perception, and financial leverage) and explanatory factors will be collected using a web-based survey, interviews, and record review. An independent expert panel will provide judgements about the impact or extent of each network's initiatives on health and system impacts. The ratings of the expert panel will be the outcome used in multivariable analyses. Following the rating of network success, a qualitative study will be conducted to provide a more in-depth examination of the most successful networks. DISCUSSION: This is the first study to combine quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the factors that contribute to the success of clinical networks and, more generally, is the largest study of clinical networks undertaken. The adaptation of expert panel methods to rate the impacts of networks is the methodological innovation of this study. The proposed project will identify the conditions that should be established or encouraged by agencies developing clinical networks and will be of immediate use in forming strategies and programs to maximise the effectiveness of such networks.