Tuesday, February 15, 2022

What are the mental health benefits of stable housing for private renters?

New paper by Ang Li, Emma Baker, and Rebecca Bentley has been published in Social Science and Medicine, looking at how stable and secure tenancy affects the mental health and level of psychological distress of private renters compared to home owners. The results suggest that stability helps to close the mental health gap between those two groups by increasing renters well being at a faster rate overtime. This is interesting to me for two reasons: 1) it suggests that ontological security is more important than tenure type. It isn't necessarily homeownership that is protective of mental health. 2) it underscores the relationship between housing and mental health, and that the rights of tenants should be considered a public health issue. 

Here is the abstract for 'Understanding the mental health effects of instability in the private rental sector: A longitudinal analysis of a national cohort': 

Using a population-based longitudinal dataset in Australia over nearly 20 years, this study examines the impact of tenure instability on mental health and psychological distress among a low-income working-age population. The analysis compares private renters (who are notable for their relative tenure insecurity in the Australian context) and homeowners with similar sociodemographic characteristics. To enhance group comparability and address the presence of time-varying covariates that confound and mediate the relationship between tenure exposure and mental health, marginal structural models were used applying weights estimated cumulatively over time. The results show that while private rental tenants report worse mental health than homeowners initially (mental health difference: Beta = −5.29, 95%CI −7.61 to −2.97; psychological distress difference: Beta = 1.77, 95%CI 0.55 to 2.99), this difference diminishes to become statistically indistinguishable by 5–6 years of occupancy (mental health difference at year 6: Beta = −2.09, 95%CI −4.31 to 0.13, predicted mental health increases: from 65.06 to 69.83 for private renters and from 70.46 to 72.02 for homeowners; psychological distress difference at year 5: Beta = 0.81, 95%CI −0.09 to 1.71, predicted psychological distress decreases: from 19.85 to 18.04 for private renters and from 17.95 to 17.10 for homeowners). Residential stability is particularly beneficial for private renters in early middle adulthood (35–44 years), with each additional year of stable occupancy for private renters correlated with a 0.99 (95%CI 0.46 to 1.53) increase in mental health and a −0.47 (95%CI −0.69 to −0.24) decrease in psychological distress. The findings provide evidence that stable and secure rental tenure is protective of mental health, and the mental health of stable renters becomes comparable to that of homeowners over time. This adds support for housing policies that promote and improve the stability and security of rental tenure.

This demonstrates another dimension to how the housing system effects our life chances and health outcomes

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Do house price increases negatively affect fertility intentions and fertility?

New paper by Ang Li (and co-authors Kadir Atalay & Stephen Whelan from the University of Sydney) looks at the effect of house price increases on renters and homeowners fertility intentions and fertility outcomes in Australia.  Housing affordability has been a big issue in Australia for some time and the impact of decreasing affordability has been linked to declining fertility rates. Atalay, Li and Whelan using data from the HILDA survey find that increasing house prices have different effects for homeowners and renters. Here is the abstract: 

There is increasing evidence that housing and housing markets impact a variety of behaviors and outcomes. Using a rich panel of Australian microlevel data, we estimated the effect of housing price changes on both fertility intentions and fertility outcomes. The analysis indicates that the likelihood of having a child among homeowners is positively related to an increase in housing wealth. The positive housing wealth effect has the greatest impact on the fertility and fertility intentions of Australian homeowners who are young and mortgage holders. In comparison, there is evidence that increases in housing prices decrease the fertility intentions of private renters with children.

The full paper can be viewed here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhe.2021.101787

This paper is based on a chapter of Ang Li's PhD thesis which can be found here: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/18877

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Blur under the Sandridge bridge

I recently starting posting to my Flickr account, which I've had for the longest time but never really used. Above is something I posted.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

'Removing conscientious objection: the impact of ‘no jab no pay’ and ‘no jab no play’ vaccine policies in australia': New Paper

I have a new paper with Ang Li (reseachgate here) just published in Preventive Medicine on the impact of No Jab, No Pay  and No Jab, No Play on vaccine coverage rates.

We found that these policies, which removed non-medical exemptions from government benefits and childcare enrolments, were occasioned by an increase in vaccination coverage across states between 2-4% for one-year olds, 1-1.5% for two-year olds, and 1-3.5% for five-year-olds.

We also found that the effect of the policy differed significantly depending on characteristics of the area.

Areas that were characterised by either: lower socio-economic status, lower median income, more Family Tax Benefit recipients, or higher pre-intervention coverage had greater responsiveness to the policy changes.

Variation in response to the policy changes across areas suggest the effect was largely led by lower-socioeconomic status parents who were nudged towards full vaccination, while more affluent parents were relatively unaffected.

Title: Removing conscientious objection: The impact of ‘No Jab NoPay’and ‘No Jab No Play’vaccine policies in Australia


  • Removing conscientious objection increased overall childhood vaccination coverage.
  • The policy responses were heterogeneous.
  • Socioeconomically advantaged areas were less responsive to policy changes.
  • Benefit-dependent and lower-income areas were more responsive to policy changes.
  • Areas with pre-existing low coverage were more persistent and less responsive.

Abstract: Vaccine refusal and hesitancy pose a significant public health threat to communities. Public health authorities have been developing a range of strategies to improve childhood vaccination coverage. This study examines the effect of removing conscientious objection on immunisation coverage for one, two and five year olds in Australia. Conscientious objection was removed from immunisation requirement exemptions for receipt of family assistance payments (national No Jab No Pay) and enrolment in childcare (state No Jab No Play). The impact of these national and state-level policies is evaluated using quarterly coverage data from the Australian Immunisation Register linked with regional data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the statistical area level between 2014 and 2018. Results suggest that there have been overall improvements in coverage associated with No Jab No Pay, and states that implemented additional No Jab No Play and tightened documentation requirement policies tended to show more significant increases. However, policy responses were heterogeneous. The improvement in coverage was largest in areas with greater socioeconomic disadvantage, lower median income, more benefit dependency, and higher pre-policy baseline coverage. Overall, while immunisation coverage has increased post removal of conscientious objection, the policies have disproportionally affected lower income families whereas socioeconomically advantaged areas with lower baseline coverage were less responsive. More effective strategies require investigation of differential policy effects on vaccine hesitancy, refusal and access barriers, and diagnosis of causes for unresponsiveness and under-vaccination in areas with persistently low coverage, to better address areas with persistent non-compliance with accordant interventions.


Here is link for access: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106406.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Effects of Graduating during Economic Downturns on Mental Health: New paper

I have a new paper with Ang Li (reseachgate here) just published in Annals of Epidemiology looking at the effects of graduating during economic downturns on mental health.

We found that graduating during a time of increased unemployment is not good for either short-term mental health or long-term mental health. The scarring effect is particularly pronounced for men, people who don't receive government payments, and people with only vocational or secondary qualification.

People with higher education seem to do better and graduating during downturns had less of a lasting effect.



This study examined the effects of economic downturns at the time of graduation on short-term and long-term mental health of graduates.


Using a large longitudinal dataset whose respondents graduated from their highest level of education between 2001 and 2018 in Australia, the study investigated the effects of initial labor market conditions on psychological distress measures, quality-of-life mental health scales, and diagnoses of depression or anxiety since graduation.


Evidence suggests the presence of a scarring effect of graduating during a recession on the mental health of young adults, particularly significant and persistent for men. Higher unemployment rates at graduation were associated with increased risks of high psychological distress and diagnoses of depression or anxiety, and lower levels of social functioning and mental well-being among men lasting over a decade. The psychological effect was largely driven by young adults with vocational or secondary qualifications or receiving no government allowance at graduation.


Policies should consider the psychological effect of graduating during recessions and focus particularly on vulnerable groups who are susceptible to adverse labor market conditions, such as graduates who are in cyclically sensitive occupations and have less or no work benefits and social protection. 

The full article can be found herehttps://authors.elsevier.com/a/1cOsO3k7xFjOxS

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Vaccine Sentiments and Under-vaccination: New Paper

New paper out co-authored with Ang Li on the issue of vaccine hesitancy and under-vaccination that looks at the factors associated with vaccine attitudes (very strongly agree with vaccines to very strongly disagree with vaccines) and vaccine behaviours around the MMR vaccine (full dosage, partial dosage, no dosage).  And the consistency between factors associated with attitudes and behaviours, showing when practical barriers impede the translation of positive vaccine attitudes into full uptake. 

Title: “Vaccinesentiments and under-vaccination: Attitudes and behaviour around Measles,Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) in an Australian cohort



The study aimed to examine the consistency in factors associated with attitudes towards vaccination and MMR vaccination status.


Using the nationally representative Longitudinal Study of Australian Children matched with the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, 4,779 children were included from 2004-2005 to 2010–11. Different MMR vaccine dosages and general attitude towards vaccination were modelled individually with multinomial logit regressions, controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and health related factors of the children and their primary carers.


The group with non-vaccination and negative attitudes was characterised by more siblings and older parents; the group with under-vaccination but positive attitudes was characterised by younger parental age; and the group with under-vaccination and neutral attitudes was characterised by less socioeconomically advantaged areas. The presence of parental medical condition(s), being private or public renters, and higher parental education were associated with under-vaccination but not with attitudes towards vaccination, whilst parental religion was associated with attitudes towards vaccination but not reflected in the vaccine uptake.


Vaccine attitudes were largely consistent with MRR vaccine outcomes. However, there was variation in the associations of factors with vaccine attitudes and uptake. The results have implications for different policy designs that target subgroups with consistent or inconsistent vaccination attitudes and behaviour. Parents with intentional and unintentional under-vaccination are of policy concern and require different policy solutions.


Here is a share link that allows free access for the first 50 days: https://t.co/XJlSK3Jcix?amp=1

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review: Sun and Steel

A short Goodreads Review of Sun and Steel by Yukio Mishima that I wrote a little while ago.

I have to say – I do not quite get the adoration that people have for this book on YouTube.

People talk about it as a kind of masculine self-help book about mastering the “discipline of the steel”, weightlifting and weapons, and embracing your physical being and physical experience.

The book does detail Mishima's journey to leave his room and transform himself through lifting steel, running, and fencing. Flirtations with the military, etc. Yet it isnt simply that, as the subtitle suggests "Art, Action and Ritual Death", it presents a worldview on relationship between word (spirit) and action (body) and their reconciliation in death.

One of the notions that I was sympathetic to is that there is a problem of overindulging in introspection and the idea that the ‘surface’ of things might contain its own kind of depths (of experience) and that the ‘depth’ within oneself are a series of eddies that lead nowhere. Mishima writes near the beginning of the book:

“Yet why must it be that men always seek out the depths, the abyss? Why must thought, like a plumb line, concern itself exclusively with vertical descent? Why was it not feasible for thought to change direction and climb vertically up, ever up, towards the surface? […] I could not understand the laws governing the motion of thought – the way it was liable to get stuck in unseen chams whenever it set out to go deep; or, whenever it aimed at the heights, to soar away into boundless and equally invisible heavens, leaving the corporeal form undeservedly neglected.”

That idea is somewhat appealing to me, which is probably why I read the book, that and as an insight into the author’s suicide. And there is a lot of insight into the latter – the book would seem in retrospect to be a manifesto for his eventual death by seppuku.

There is a long critique of the intellectualist’s neglect of bodily experience and embrace of ‘nocturnal thought’ – which seems to be why there is a focus on the ‘corrosive’ nature of thought and words.

There is a lot of ontological speculation about the relation or tension between words and action and the spirit and the body, which in the epilogue he suggests need to be balanced. This speculation is interesting at times, and sometimes rather vague.

A lot of the book is about embracing the discipline of the steel and the sense of power and efficacy that one gains from this. Yet, the aim is not a better quality of life, but a better quality of death. To attain a beautiful body required for a noble death.

The underlying fixation on self-annihilation in service of the group and attaining a beautiful death that clearly resonates with fascistic ideals that are deeply odious.