The complex social problem of youth disadvantage 

This project looks at the complex social problem of youth disadvantage. Youth disadvantage is an interesting social policy issue for a number of reasons. For example, accumulated disadvantage can mean long-term social and health inequalities for those who suffer disadvantage throughout their life. This comes at a cost to the individual, to the government and to society more broadly. As such, programmes need to be implemented to alleviate the impact of these lifetime inequalities.

Aims of the project

My research seeks to explore ways to help decision-makers in these contexts. These decision-makers are often faced with difficulties in evaluating programmes, whether because of resource or time constraints, or because they are faced with making decisions based on incomplete or uncertain information. Practical decisions need to be made regardless of their capacity to conduct rigorous evaluations and/or unreliable data. This research aims to address broader questions of what works, how it works and economic value concerns of youth disadvantage.

Methodological approach

As such, this research hopes to use methods which can help take account of both the uncertainty and complexity in dealing with such information or data. With this, 3 studies will provide insights into the use of relevant tools with which decisions can be made as well as providing analysis based on rigorous research methods. Specifically we use: cognitive maps to identify how programmes work; a model of the economic consequences of youth disadvantage to help decision-makers justify programme investment; and a tool for the quantification of the uncertainty surrounding the estimates of effectiveness of programme models aimed at tackling youth disadvantage.