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Stark divide between young and old as Australian household incomes and wealth stall

Roger Wilkins writes in The Conversation (20.7.16) about the release of the annual HILDA survey, and what the data show regarding household incomes and poverty rates in Australia.

‘Poverty in Australia has declined, welfare reliance has stabilised and long-term poverty is becoming rare – but overall economic wellbeing is no longer improving, and households’ wealth has remained static, despite rising property prices, according to Australia’s most respected longitudinal study of economic wellbeing.

‘And there is a rapidly growing wealth divide between generations, with median wealth increasing by 61% among people aged 65 and over, compared to just 3.2% among people aged 25 to 34, since 2001.

‘This is the picture from the latest statistical report of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, collected by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Collected every year, HILDA is Australia’s only nationally representative household longitudinal study, and has followed the same individuals and households since 2001.’

A snapshot of Australia by income, gender and work

Helen Westerman and colleagues write in The Conversation (22.7.16) about the data in the HILDA survey, presenting a picture of what it reveals of the uneven spread of wealth and opportunity across Australian society.

‘At face value Australians are doing well. Since 2001 mean disposable income has increased by almost 32%, and weekly wages have been consistently rising.

‘But the majority of growth was prior to 2009. Since the global financial crisis household incomes have stagnated. And not everyone has benefited equally from the boom years – men have done disproportionately well out of wage increases.

‘… And when it comes to work, while policymakers concentrate on tax cuts for smaller companies, HILDA shows small business is not a big employer overall and tends to employ older workers in traditional fields. In fact, if you want to be well-paid, you are better off with a larger employer.’

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