Black-White Gaps in Australia

A new report out from the Productivity Commission (PDF overview) pulls together a host of wellbeing indicators for the 410,000 Indigenous Australians, and compares them with indicators for the population as a whole. It’s instructive not only for seeing the wide gaps, but for seeing which ones are closing, and which aren’t. On unemployment and education, we seem to be making some progress at reducing the black-white gap (part of the unemployment change could be CDEP, but we’re not told precisely). On incarceration, the gap seems to be widening. There are also indications that the gap is widening for crime victimisation (though it’s possible that what people regard as criminal behaviour may have changed over time).

One of the things that struck me was looking at education statistics. The grade 3 gap is palpable, but small. Then by grade 5, it’s starting to widen. When we look at year 12 dropout rates, the black-white gap is huge. This seems to argue for a push to get extraordinary teachers in front of young Indigenous students at a very early age.

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2 Responses to Black-White Gaps in Australia

  1. Geoff Robinson says:

    Very interesting, I will highlight in my lectures to Education students.

  2. Andrew Leigh says:

    Geoff, this is also true of the difference between African American and white students in the US. Though the other thing that researchers found in the US is that even when you do simple tests with preschoolers, there’s a black-white test score gap. I suspect the same is true in Australia, though haven’t seen any research on this.

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