Labour Economics and Social Policy

This research program investigates a broad range of labour market and social policy issues, with an emphasis on income distribution and social inclusion.

Research focuses on the effectiveness of employment, welfare, and tax and transfer policies in improving labour market outcomes. Childcare and other family policies are of particular interest, with health and education important factors in much of this research.

The program contributes to the development of appropriate policies that will increase labour force participation, particularly amongst women, while also improving the circumstances of disadvantaged groups and individuals on a low income or with low skills.

Current research topics include:

  • Tax and transfer policies
  • Women and families
  • Families and child development
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty, income distribution and social exclusion
  • Retirement
  • Health and disability, and
  • Education and training.

Data and methodology

Members of the Labour Economics and Social Policy program manage the Journeys Home Survey, a longitudinal study of Australians who are either homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless.

Their research draws upon a range of panel data collected through the Melbourne Institute, including HILDA and MABEL, but also makes use of external datasets such as LSAC and LSIC, two longitudinal studies of Australian children, and other national datasets.

Members of the program maintain the Melbourne Institute Tax and Transfer Simulator, a behavioural microsimulation model used to analyse the potential effects of proposed policy.

They also have extensive expertise in policy evaluation and the running of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs).


The Labour Economics and Social Policy program measures a range of social indicators, publishing its findings in reports such as Poverty Lines: Australia, Household Expenditure Measure and Social Exclusion Monitor.

Broader roles

The Labour Economics and Social Policy program is involved with the Centre for Research Excellence in Medical Workforce Dynamics, which manages the MABEL Survey, and with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course.

The program is extensively involved in the cross-Faculty (Hallmark) Economic and Social Participation Research Initiative (ESPRIt), which was established in 2017 at the University of Melbourne and is co-chaired by Professor Guyonne Kalb.

The program undertakes research and evaluation projects for partners in government and industry, and has completed a series of projects for the National Centre for Vocational Education Research and the Australian Government’s Department of Employment.

Program Details


Professor Guyonne Kalb


This program is funded through grants and research contracts provided by a variety of sources, including Australian State and Federal Government departments, the ARC, the New Zealand Treasury and RFi Analytics.

Research staff


Previous Projects

Recent publications