Damn statistics

Poisonous little story in The Australian by Rick Morton, purporting to show “data clusters” for over-representation of people born in certain overseas countries for receipt of the dole, carers payment, old age pension and invalid pension.  Does this by comparing the percentage of recipients of each benefit as at 1 July 2016 by country of birth (newly obtained DSS statistics) with the percentage of Australia’s population by country of birth in July 2015 (ABS statistics).

Source of this presumably is a Jeremy Sammut from the Centre for Independent Studies.

There may well be such clusters, for all sorts of reasons (eg: refugees suffering mental health problems after long-term detention) but I doubt that, without some adjustment for the age of each group, it is possible to reach very meaningful conclusions.

At least one comparison cries out for further explanation/comment:

Australians are more likely to be on welfare than New ­Zealanders living here as permanent residents.

Kiwis make up 2.6 per cent of the population but are under-­represented in all the major ­welfare categories.

Two observations: (1) ABS definition of “permanent residents” is not the immigration definition or one which translates into welfare eligibility;  in particular, (2) no-one should be surprised that New Zealanders are under-represented given the treatment for welfare-eligibiity of New Zealanders who came here after 26 February 2001.

In my opinion the story is rubbish but rubbish calculated to push all the right Oz hot buttons.  Predictable comment thread though a couple of people have taken the trouble to point out some of the obvious factual considerations.

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