The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children annual statistical report 2014

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children annual statistical report 2014

Report— August 2015
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children annual statistical report 2014

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is Australia's first nationally representative longitudinal study of child development. The purpose of the study is to provide data that enable a comprehensive understanding of development and life-course trajectories within Australia's current social, economic and cultural environment. The longitudinal nature of the study enables researchers to examine the dynamics of change through the life course as children develop, and to go beyond the static pictures provided by cross-sectional statistics. The study thereby gives policy-makers and researchers access to quality data about children's development in the contemporary Australian environment.

This is the fifth volume in the LSAC Annual Statistical Report series, which uses data from the fifth wave of the study for the first time. The purpose of these reports is to provide a snapshot of some of the data from the study and to address policy-relevant questions about aspects of Australian children's lives and development. The report makes use of the longitudinal nature of LSAC data to describe the dynamics of change as children develop, and how their families and lives change as they grow older.

The full report is available on the Growing Up in Australia website


1. Introduction

2. Children's views about parental separation

Lixia Qu and Ruth Weston

Children have traditionally been shielded from involvement in separation and living arrangements, in part to protect them from any distress but also due to the belief that children have difficulty articulating their views and making meaningful contributions. This chapter explores the opinions of 12-13 year old children from separated families. It investigates how the children felt about their parents' separation, how they described the quality of their parents relationship, the proportion who wanted and believed they did have input into decisions affecting their living arrangements, their views about their care-time arrangements, and how their views differed by gender, duration of parental separation, and their care-time arrangements. The findings reveal that children's views about parental separation are diverse and that children in this age group want to have a say in their own living arrangements.

3. Gender role attitudes within couples, and parents' time in paid work, child care and housework

Jennifer Baxter

The time that mothers and fathers spend in paid and unpaid work remains very gendered in Australia, with fathers usually in full-time paid employment, mothers often employed part-time or not in employment, and mothers doing more household work - whether in full-time work or not. This chapter explores the association between these different time-use patterns and gender role attitudes. It looks at parents' characteristics and circumstances and the extent they supported the male breadwinner/female caregiver model or an equal share of housework. Though the study revealed varying views, it did find widespread agreement that the household work should be more evenly shared when both parents work.

Media Release - A quarter of parents prefer a male "breadwinner"

4. Children's early home learning environment and learning outcomes in the early years of school

Maggie Yu and Galina Daraganova

Research shows that the quality of the home learning environment during a child's first 3 years of life is associated not only with cognitive development at age 4-5 years but also with educational achievement at school and beyond. This chapter explores the association between specific aspects of the early home learning environment and children's learning outcomes in grade 3, using LSAC data for 8-9 year old children matched with their National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results. The study finds that children's early learning experiences at home were significantly related to their early language development and school readiness at age 4-5 years, and in turn associated with their academic performance in Year 3.

5. Transition to secondary school

Brigit Maguire and Maggie Yu

The transition from primary to secondary school marks a time of significant change for many children, and how well they navigate this transition has important implications for their ongoing psychosocial, emotional and academic development. This chapter explores what pre-transition factors - such as socio-emotional wellbeing, temperament, academic performance, experiences in primary school, parenting style, and parental investment - are associated with post-transition difficulties. Difficulties include making new friends or missing old friends, coping with schoolwork and homework, coping with a larger school, and managing different travel arrangements. The study finds that a small proportion of children report difficulties, and that children who had fewer socio-emotional difficulties and more positive experiences in primary school were less likely to report post-transition difficulties.

Media Release - Making a smooth transition to secondary school

6. The educational expectations of Australian children and their mothers

Maggie Yu and Galina Daraganova

The research shows that the educational expectations of parents and children are important factors in predicting children's educational achievements and occupational outcomes. This chapter provides a profile of mothers' and children's educational expectations and whether these change over time. It investigates the relationship between mother and child expectations; the impact of individual, family and school factors on expectations; how educational expectations relate to children's academic performance; and whether children with higher expectations are more motivated to learn than children with lower expectations. The study finds that high educational expectations are associated with socioeconomic advantage, child gender, overseas background, independent and private schools, and NAPLAN test performance.

Media Release - Australian mothers have high hopes for kids education

7. Early onset of crime and delinquency among Australian children

Walter Forrest and Ben Edwards

The origins of much antisocial and criminal behaviour in adolescence and adulthood can be traced back to early childhood. However, most children who appear to be on an early-onset and life-course-persistent pathway do not develop into young offenders. This chapter examines the early onset of crime and antisocial behaviour among 12-13 year old children, including its prevalence and risk factors. It investigates what percentage of children are involved in crime and delinquency in late childhood and early adolescence, what factors place children at risk of involvement, and what factors can help differentiate at-risk children who do not become involved in crime and delinquency at this early stage from those who do.

Media Release - Young delinquents - rare but some at greater risk

Publication details

Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, August 2015.
160 pp.
Suggested citation:

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2015). The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Annual Statistical Report 2014. Melbourne: AIFS.

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