Enforcing compulsory schooling by linking welfare payments to school attendance: lessons from Australia’s Northern Territory

Justman, Moshe and Peyton, Kyle (2014). Enforcing compulsory schooling by linking welfare payments to school attendance: lessons from Australia’s Northern Territory. LCC Working Paper Series 2014-03, Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland.

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Author Justman, Moshe
Peyton, Kyle
Title Enforcing compulsory schooling by linking welfare payments to school attendance: lessons from Australia’s Northern Territory
School, Department or Centre Institute for Social Science Research
Institution The University of Queensland
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Series LCC Working Paper Series
Report Number 2014-03
Publication date 2014-09
Total pages 34
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Efforts to enforce compulsory schooling by linking welfare assistance to school attendance are rarely successful in themselves. One reason is a lack of credibility: targeted families may anticipate that welfare administrators will be reluctant to withdraw support when attendance does not improve. Australia's School Enrolment and Attendance through Welfare Reform Measure (SEAM) demonstrates the impact of a credible threat to link welfare payments to school attendance. Targeting the Indigenous population of the Northern Territory, its heightened credibility stemmed from the extreme circumstances in which it was implemented—the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act—and from the troubled history of race relations in Australia. We show, using a difference-in-difference analysis of standardized test data (NAPLAN) that SEAM had a substantial, immediate impact. In 2009, its first year, it triggered an increase in test participation rates of 16-20 percentage points over preSEAM levels of about 70%, and an increase in the share of the cohort achieving national minimum standards on these tests of 5-10 percentage points. However, welfare payments were rarely withheld from the remaining truant families, and as this quickly became known, participation rates fell immediately in subsequent years, though remaining significantly above pre-SEAM levels.
Keyword Australia
Indigenous population
Northern Territory Emergency Response
SEAM
Compulsory schooling
Linking school attendance to welfare payments
Institutional Status Non-UQ

 
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Created: Tue, 16 Jun 2015, 18:01:17 EST by Mary-Anne Marrington on behalf of Institute for Social Science Research