Professor Robert TantonProfessor


Address: Building 24 University of Canberra Phone: + 61 (0)2 6201 2769


National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM)


Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra

Research Interests

Small area estimation; community adaptability and sustainability; statistical modelling


Professor Robert Tanton has a PhD in Economics from the University of Canberra, and has been at NATSEM since June 2005.

Robert’s main interest is spatial disadvantage, and he is a recognised Australian and international expert on spatial disadvantage. The research conducted by his team covers areas such as spatial housing disadvantage, economic disadvantage (poverty), income inequality and wellbeing. His principal areas of research are spatial disadvantage and wellbeing; spatial statistics and small area estimation; and community wellbeing.

Robert also leads work using a spatial microsimulation technique to derive small area estimates of many indicators of disadvantage and wellbeing. So far, this technique has been used to derive small area estimates of poverty and housing stress; and is currently being used to develop small area estimates of subjective wellbeing and indigenous disadvantage. Robert’s team is one of only a few international teams involved in this world leading research, and he recently was part of a European Social Research Council grant to present the results of his work in the UK.

Robert has published extensively in the academic literature on spatial disadvantage and social exclusion, and has presented results of his work to a number of national and international conferences. He has also presented results from his research on spatial housing stress to the Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability. He has been a Chief Investigator on a number of Australian Research Council grants, and has conducted commissioned work for a number of agencies including the Tasmanian Social Inclusion Unit; the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; the AMP; Commonwealth Bank; and Veda.

Prior to joining NATSEM, Robert worked in the Australian Public Service, with five years at the Department of Finance, researching and modelling staffing statistics; five years at the Commonwealth Grants Commission modelling police expenditure; and six years at the Australian Bureau of Statistics modelling small area crime rates and leading the team calculating the ABS 2001 Socio-Economic Index For Areas (SEIFA).


Selected Publications:

  • Pettit, C. J., Tanton, R., & Hunter, J. (forthcoming). An online platform for conducting spatial-statistical analyses of national census data across Australia. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. [Read here

  • Mohanty, I., Tanton, R., Vidyattama, Y. and Thurecht, L. (2016), “Estimating the fiscal costs of long-term jobless families in Australia”, Australian Journal of Social Issues, 51(1), pp. 89-108

  • Miranti, R., Daly, A. and Tanton, R. (2015), “An area-based measure of risk of social exclusion for Australian school-age children”, Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 21, 1, pp. 26-49
  • Rao, M., Tanton, R. and Vidyattama, Y. (2015), “Modelling the economic, social and ecological links in the Murray-Darling basin: A conceptual framework”, Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 21, 1, pp. 80-102
  • Schofield, D., Cunich, M., Kelly, S., Passey, M.E., Shrestha, R., Callander, E., Tanton, R. and Veerman, L. (2015), “The Impact of Diabetes on the Labour Force Participation, Savings and Retirement Income of Workers Aged 45-64 Years in Australia”, PLoS ONE, 10, 2, pp. 1-10
  • Tanton, R., Vidyattama, Y. and Mohanty, I. (2015), “Disadvantage in the Australian Capital Territory”, Policy Studies, 36, 1, pp. 92-113
  • Veerman, L., Shrestha, R., Mihalopoulos, C., Passey, M., Kelly, S., Tanton, R., Callander, E. and Schofield, D. (2015), “Depression prevention, labour force participation and income of older working aged Australians: A microsimulation economic analysis”, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49, 5, pp. 430-436
  • Vidyattama, Y., Tanton, R., and Biddle, N. (2015), “Estimating small-area Indigenous cultural participation from synthetic survey data”, Environment and Planning A, 47, 5, pp. 1211-1228
  • Schofield, D., Cunich, M.M., Shrestha, R.N., Passey, P.E., Veerman, L., Callander, E.J, Kelly, S.J. and Tanton, R. (2014), “The economic impact of diabetes through lost labour force participation on individuals and government: evidence from a microsimulation model”, BMC Public Health, 14, 220, pp. 1-8
  • Schofield, D., Cunich, M., Shrestha, R., Passey, P., Kelly, S., Tanton, R. and Veerman, L. (2014), “The impact of chronic conditions of care recipients on the labour force participation of informal carers in Australia: which conditions are associated with higher rates of non-participation in the labour force?”, BMC Public Health, 14, 561, pp. 1-9
  • Schofield, D., Cunich, M., Shrestha, R., Callander, E., Passey, M., Kelly, S., Tanton, R. and Veerman, L. (2014), “The impact of diabetes on the labour force participation and income poverty of workers aged 45-64 years in Australia”, PLoS ONE, 9, 2, pp. 1-7
  • Schofield, D., Shrestha, R., Kelly, S., Veerman, L., Tanton, R., Passey, M., Vos, T., Cunich, M. and Callander E. (2014), “Health&WealthMOD2030: A microsimulation model of the long term economic impacts of disease leading to premature retirements of Australians aged 45-64 years old”, The International Journal of Microsimulation, 7, 2, pp. 94-118
  • Tanton, R. (2014), “Introduction: Editorial special issue on Spatial Microsimulation”, International Journal of Microsimulation, 7, 1, pp. 1-3
  • Tanton, R. (2014), “A Review of Spatial Microsimulation Methods”, International Journal of Microsimulation, 7, 1, pp. 4-25
  • Tanton, R., Williamson, P. and Harding, A. (2014), “Comparing Two Methods of Reweighting a Survey File to Small Area Data”, International Journal of Microsimulation, 7, 1, pp. 76-99
  • Vidyattama, Y., Rao, M., Mohanty, I. and Tanton, R. (2014), “Modelling the impact of declining Australian terms of trade on the spatial distribution of income”, International Journal of Microsimulation, 7, 1, pp. 100-126

  • Harding, A. and Tanton, R. (2014), “Policy and People at the Small Area Level: Using Micro-simulation to Create Synthetic Spatial Data”. In Stimson, R., ed., Handbook Of Research Methods And Applications In Spatially Integrated Social Science, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, pp. 560-586

  • Tanton, R. and Clarke, G. (2014), “Spatial Models”. In O’Donoghue, C., ed., Handbook of Microsimulation, Bingley, UK, Emerald, pp. 367-383

  • Tanton R, Keegan, M. and Vu, Q.N. (2014), “Using Excel as a front end to a microsimulation model on energy and water concession pricing”. In Dekkers, G., Keegan, M. and O’Donoghue, C., ed., New pathways in Microsimulation, UK, Ashgate, pp. 249-258


Research Projects & Grants
PhD Supervision

Areas of Supervision:

  • Small area estimation
  • Community adaptability and sustainability
  • Statistical modelling





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