The Legal Problems of Everyday Life - The Nature, Extent and Consequences of Justiciable Problems Experienced by Canadians

Chapter III: At Risk of Unmet Need: The Incidenceb of Justiciable Problems (continued)

The Best Predictors of Justiciable Problems

A series of binary multiple logistic regressions[139] were carried out to determine which social and demographic variables are the strongest predictors of experiencing each of the fifteen civil justice problems. The descriptive data in the section above describes the groups and demographic categories that are most likely to experience the various problems taking one variable at a time. The results of the multivariate analysis show which variables, net of the statistical effects of the other variables, best predict certain problems. Each of the summary tables below shows only the variables that remained in the regression models with statistically significant results[140] and an odds ratio of at least 2.0, indicating that a respondent with the particular characteristic is at least twice as likely to have experienced a problem of that type. The r-square figure expresses the total amount of the variation in experiencing a problem or not explained by all the variables in the regression equation. Essentially, the lower the r-square, the weaker the regression model overall.

Over all, being disabled is a significant predictor of all 15 problem types. The predictive power of disability status is, as one might expect, strongest for problems related to disability pensions. This certainly adds strength to Howard's assessment of the degree to which the disabled suffer multiple disadvantages. "It has been said that 'of all the disadvantaged groups in society, the disabled are the most socially excluded", and that as a consequence, "'life opportunities remain severely restricted for many'."[141] In addition, being relatively young, in this case under 29 years of age is also a strong predictor of experiencing justiciable problems Age was a statistically significant predictor of reporting problems in consumer, employment, debt, social assistance, police action and threat of legal action. Other variables were important predictors for a smaller number of problems types. The following sections briefly describe the most powerful predictors of the fifteen problem types.

Consumer Problems. Being disabled, young and having three or more children were the most important predictors of experiencing consumer problems.

Table 10: Best Predictors of Consumer Problems
Consumer Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 2.3 255.6 .0001 --
Disabled 0.69 55.2 .0001 2.1
Under 30 Years of Age 0.78 33.4 .0001 2.3
30 to 44 years of age 0.75 34.2 .0001 2.1
Three or more Children 0.44 14.6 .0001 2.0

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.06

Looking at the odds ratios, young people have a slightly greater likelihood of experiencing a consumer problem, taking all other effects into account.

Employment Problems. Being disabled and being young appear again as significant predictors do having employment problems. In addition, as one would expect, being unemployed is also a statistically significant predictor of these types of problems. See table 11.

Table 11:Best Predictors of Employment Problems
Employment Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 4.5 409.0 .0001 --
Disabled 0.86 68.1 .0001 2.4
Under 30 Years of Age 2.2 114.1 .0001 8.6
Unemployed 1.5 99.6 .0001 4.6

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.15

In this case being under 30 years of age has a far greater effect on experiencing employment problems than the other variables. Respondents under the age of 30 are 8.6 times more likely than people of all other ages to experience an employment problem. Interestingly, being unemployed is less strongly related than age. In this case, disability remains an important predictor variable. Disabled respondents are 2.4 times more likely than other respondents to experience problems of this type.

Debt. Being disables and being and younger people are the two best predictors of experiencing a debt problem. Being young is the more powerful predictor.

Table 12: Best Predictors of Debt Problems
Debt Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 3.5 429.0 .0001 --
Disabled 0.69 50.7 .0001 2.2
Under 30 Years of Age 1.2 68.4 .0001 3.2

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.11

Social Assistance. Disability, age and income are the important predictor variables for experiencing problems relating to social assistance. People earning less than $25,000 are more than seven times more likely than others to have experienced a problem related to social services. Age is a significant predictor of social services problems. Compared with the problem types discussed above, the middle age group of 30 to 44 year olds are more likely to experience problems of this type. Again the disabled are more likely than non-disabled persons to experience problems related to social services.

Table 13: Best Predictors of Social Assistance Problems
Social Assistance Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 7.5 120.8 .0001 --
Disabled 0.93 10.6 .01 2.6
Under 30 Years of Age 0.92 3.4 .001 2.5
Aged 30 to 44 Years 1.13 5.7 .02 3.1
Less Than $25,000 2.0 20.9 .0001 7.4
$25,000 to $44,000 1.2 8.3 .004 3.4

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.14

Disability Pensions. As might be expected, the disabled have a far greater likelihood of experiencing a problem with a disability pension than others.

However, being older, in this case being between 45 and 64 years old, increases one's likelihood of experiencing problems with disability pensions, independent of the effect of being disabled.

Table 14: Best Predictors of Disability Pension Problems
Disability Pension Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 9.2 87.2 .0001 --
Disabled 2.0 45.0 .0001 7.6
Aged 45 to 64 Years 1.8 11.2 .0008 6.3

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.24

Housing Problems. Four characteristics are good predictors of experiencing housing problems; being disabled, being on social assistance, being unemployed and having an income of less than $25,000. Disability and unemployment are equally important as predictors of housing problems. People with lower incomes are 2.7 times more likely to have housing problems and those on social assistance are twice as likely as all other to have problems of this kind.

Table 15: Best Predictors of Housing Problems
Housing Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 5.1 118.7 .0001 --
Disabled 1.1 20.9 .0001 3.0
Receiving Social Assistance 0.99 4.1 .04 2.0
Unemployed 1.1 10.1 .002 3.0
Income Less than $25,000 1.0 11.1 .0009 2.7

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.13

Discrimination. Being disabled, young and a member of a visible minority group are all good statistical predictors of reporting problems related to discrimination. Being disabled is the strongest predictor of discrimination followed in order of importance by being a member of a visible minority, 3.4 times more likely to experience discrimination than non-minority people, and young people who are about 2.7 times more likely to report discrimination.

Table 16: Best Predictors of Discrimination Problems
Discrimination Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 5.5 135.9 .0001 --
Disabled 1.4 39.7 .0001 3.9
Under 30 Years of Age 1.2 10.2 .001 3.4
Visible Minority 1.2 24.6 .001 2.7

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.13

Police Action. Being disabled, young and male are the main predictors of experiencing problems related to police action. Clearly being young trumps all other variables in predicting problems with the police. Net of the effects of other variables, people under 30 are 16 times more likely to report experiencing problems related to contact with the police than all other age groups. The disabled are 3.3 times more likely to report problems with the police, all other things being equal. Men are 2.4 times more likely than women to report problems with the police.

Table 17: Best Predictors of Police Action Problems
Police Action Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 7.6 119.0 .0001 --
Disabled 1.2 25.6 .0001 3.3
Under 30 Years of Age 2.8 19.6 .0001 16.0
Age 30 to 34 1.9 9.3 .002 7.1
Male 1.9 19.7 .0001 2.4

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.17

Family Law: Problems Related to Relationship Breakdown. The two statistically significant predictors of experiencing relationship breakdown problems controlling for the effects of other variables are the presence of dependent children and being disabled. The likelihood of reporting a problem related to a relationship breakdown increases with the number of dependent children. Disability status is significantly and substantially related to having experienced a relationship breakdown problem.

Table 18: Best Predictors of Relationship Breakdown Problems
Family Law: Relationship Breakdown Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 57 173.9 .0001 --
Disabled .79 17.7 .0001 2.2
Three or More Children 1.5 39.4 .0001 4.4
Two Children 1.4 48.8 .0001 4.1
One Child 1.2 43.7 .0001 3.1

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.16

Other Family Law Problems. The variables are strong predictors relationship breakdown are also good predictors of other family law problems.

The presence of three or more dependent children has a particularly strong effect, with an associated odds ratio indicating that people with three or more children are over 12 times more likely to have experienced a problem of this type than respondents with fewer dependent children.

Table 19: Best Predictors of Other Family Law Problems
Other Family Law Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 7.7 76.6 .0001 --
Disabled 1.0 13.6 .002 2.8
Three or More Children 2.5 54.5 .0001 12.8
Two Children 1.7 25.1 .0001 5.7
One Child 1.7 27.8 .0001 5.6

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.18

Wills and Powers of Attorney. Age and disability are significant predictors of problems in this area. Being disabled and middle aged are the two statistically significant predictors of problems involving the settlement of a will or obtaining a power of attorney (refer to table 20).

Table 20: Best Predictors of Problems Related to Wills and Powers of Attorney
Wills and Powers of Attorney Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 3.6 166.5 .0001 --
Disabled 0.81 29.6 .0001 2.3
Age 45 to 64 0.67 11.9 .0001 2.0

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.07

Personal Injury Problems. It is not surprising that disability would be inherently related to personal injury problems. The disabled are 6.9 times more likely to report a personal injury problem than people who are not disabled.

Being less than 30 years old also has a statistically significant effect on experiencing a personal injury problem. Younger people are slightly more than twice as likely as others to report problems I this category.

Table 21: Best Predictors of Personal Injury Problems
Personal Injury Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 4.8 178.8 .0001 --
Disabled 1.9 128.2 .0001 6.9
Under30 Years of Age .0.77 5.6 .02 2.1

Note: R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.11

Hospital Treatment and Release Conditions. Only one variable met the two criteria for consideration in this analysis, a positive statistically significant effect with an odds ratio of more than 2.0 in the regression equation for this problem type. It is not surprising that disability and hospital treatment and release should be strongly linked, although it is somewhat unexpected that disability is the only variable.

The disabled are 4.8 times more likely than non-disabled persons to have problems of this kind.

Table 22: Best Predictors of Problems Related to Hospital Treatment and Release
Hospital Treatment and Conditions of Release Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 5.9 126.0 .0001 --
Disabled 1.6 46.2 .0001 4.8

R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.10

The Threat of Legal Action. Age is the primary factor predicting having received a threatening letter from a lawyer or a summons to appear in court. People under 30 years of age are 6.5 times more likely to receive a legal threat than others. Being disabled and having three or more dependent children have less independent predictive strength compared with age. Nonetheless, the disabled are 2.7 times more likely and people with three or more children are 2.2 times more likely than all others to report this sort of problem.

Table 23: Best Predictors of Problems Related to the Threat of Legal Action
Threat of Legal Action Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 7.1 72.8 .0001 --
Disabled 1.0 11.3 .008 2.7
Under 30 Years of Age 1.9 5.1 .01 6.5
Age 30 to 44 1.8 5.2 .02 5.9
Three or More Children 0.78 4.5 .03 2.2

R-Square for the Regression Equation = 0.07

The Risk of Unmet Need. First and foremost, the disabled and, second, the young are likely to experience a number of types of justiciable problems. Disability is a statistically significant predictor of all fifteen types of justiciable problems and age is a predictor of ten problemtypes. Other predictors relate mainly to specific problem types. For instance, being male is a strong predictor of problems related to the police and being a member of a visible minority is a predictor of problems related to discrimination. The disabled and the young are at the greatest risk of unmet need.


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