View my latest projects, including the Child Social Exclusion 2024 index, here

Communities in Numbers is a social and economic modelling company run by Professor Robert Tanton. I am an economist with more than 30 years experience in the public sector and academia, including 5 years (2015 – 2020) as Director for the reputable National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) at the University of Canberra.

I am now working full time running a private social and economic research company from Manton, near Yass in NSW. I bring the complex modelling techniques that I led at NATSEM to my work with the public service, NGO’s, local councils, and others. Details of the work I do are listed below.

I am passionate about applying modelling techniques to help solve complex problems, as well as informing policy to help increase the wellbeing of residents in local communities in Australia and internationally. I can also help clients with economic, social and demographic modelling, what-if analysis and training in interpreting econometric models and finding and using statistics. I also do social and economic profiles of communities, and have assisted the NSW Parliament develop an electorate profile and the Country University Centre Snowy-Monaro develop a community profile. This included online maps to visualise the data. My work so far is listed here.

Economic Modelling

Economic modelling to identify economic costs and benefits of infrastructure proposals.

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Demogaphic modelling

Simulation modelling of future demographic change in an area

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What-If analysis

What-if analysis and simulation modelling to estimate the impact of different policies and proposals

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Statistical Training

Training to help your staff understand the output from econometric modelling, or identify and analyse data.

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Social and Economic Profiles

Profiles of your community including social and economic indicators from a number of sources.

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Using demographic modelling, I can estimate poverty rates; inequality; housing stress; and other measures of wellbeing for communities, and then create online maps of these indicators

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Who we are

Communities in Numbers provides social, economic and demographic analysis and modelling. It is run by Professor Robert Tanton, an international expert on social, demographic and economic analysis, with 30 years experience in social, economic and demographic analysis and modelling in the Commonwealth Public Service and academia.

I am a trained economist, with experience in modelling the impact of policy, particularly on communities. My work so far has been advising the ACT Government on their wellbeing framework; developing a model of Jobseeker for The Australia Institute; modelling the impact of policy on indicators in the Youth Development Index; and developing a model of price increases in NSW with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Over the last 18 years in academia, I have provided expert advice to the Productivity Commission on transitioning regional economies; provided community level modelling to RIRDC; Namoi Water; Scottsdale local council; and the Murray Darling Basin Authority; and have also developed innovative community modelling techniques which have been used to estimate poverty and housing stress for communities in Victoria (VCOSS); New South Wales (NCOSS); and the ACT (ACTCOSS). After fifteen years at the well respected National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) at the University of Canberra, and with five years from 2015 to 2020 as Director, in 2023 Prof Tanton left the University of Canberra to run a new initiative which provides his unique demographic modelling and economic analysis skills to local councils, NGO’s and Government.

My approach isn’t a typical consultancy approach of doing the work as quickly as possible and delivering a report. I develop a working relationship with the client, working closely with them in a project, and passing on knowledge and skills to your staff.

In many cases if a model has been developed, I make it available to the client using an Excel interface. This is how the NSW DPC Prices model; and TAI Tax Model has been developed. I then work closely with the client, providing support; training in the model; and examples of how to use the model. This relationship approach means that you get the best value for your money, but also trains your staff in using the complex modelling techniques that I use.

Beth Wright is a co-Director of Communities in Numbers, and is an expert in extracting, using and analysis Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data. Ms Wright worked at the ABS for 20 years, including making contributions to many of the social reports. She spent 5 years working in the Census area of the ABS, and has extensive experience writing up complex analysis in an engaging way.

Communities in Numbers what if analysis is based on new and innovative work using synthetic populations and scenario modelling developed by Prof Tanton over the last 18 years at NATSEM.

Using these techniques, Prof Tanton can calculate poverty rates and housing stress for small areas, and for sub-groups of the population like children or older people.

He not only has extensive experience modelling, but also has extensive experience writing up the results of his work in accessible, easy to read reports, which Ms Wright helps with using her extensive writing skills. He is also an experienced presenter, able to present the results of my work to a wide audience.