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GFC data shows no improvement to Australian living standards

  • August 01 2019
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GFC data shows no improvement to Australian living standards

By Cameron Micallef
August 01 2019

The living standards of Australians have stagnated since the global financial crisis, a long-running national survey has found.

Melbourne Institute

GFC data shows no improvement to Australian living standards

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  • August 01 2019
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The living standards of Australians have stagnated since the global financial crisis, a long-running national survey has found.

Melbourne Institute

The Melbourne Institute’s HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) report uncovered clear trends that Australians are going backwards financially, with poverty rising and compulsory superannuation failing to reduce the dependency on the aged pension.

The HILDA survey has followed the lives of more than 17,000 Australians each year, enabling it to track household and family relationships, income, employment, health and education, with survey results encompassing data from 2001 to 2017. 

Annual income

According to the HILDA results, survey participants indicated that median incomes have gone backwards since the global financial crisis (GFC).

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In 2009, the median annual income for participants was $80,637.

By 2017, this figure had fallen by $542, showing a final figure of $80,095.

The results also highlighted that the median household disposable income has also fallen since 2009, with Australians in 2017 having $576 less in disposable income compared with nearly a decade ago.  

A snapshot of welfare

Compulsory superannuation was designed to lower the impact on the Australian government through funding older Australians’ retirement, the report noted.

However, HILDA’s statistics showed that 36 per cent of retired Australians are still reliant on welfare to fund more than 90 per cent of their income.

A further 60 per cent of elderly Australians said they relied on the government to fund 50 per cent of their retirement needs.

The number of Australians retiring on the pension has fallen slightly since the GFC, it was noted. 

Eighty-three per cent of people who were retired in 2009 required a pension compared with 76.5 per cent in 2017. 

However, new pensioners – those who were currently receiving the pension but were not receiving the pension in the previous year – has increased since the GFC with 80.3 per cent of retirees entering a new pension in 2009, compared with 83.1 in 2016-17. 

HILDA also highlighted that nearly one-third of working age people aged 18-64 (30.6 per cent), received income support at some stage during the financial year ending 30 June 2017. 

This is a lower proportion to what was reported in the 2001 survey, where 38.5 per cent of participants were on social benefits.

The report also flagged that since 2012, there has been only a slight increase in the proportion of people deriving more than 90 per cent of their income from welfare, but no changes have occurred from the proportion of people deriving more than 50 per cent of their income from welfare.

Poverty on the rises

HILDA also flagged that poverty in Australia is on the increase again, despite several years of decline.

A person is in “relative income poverty” if they are unable to afford the goods and services needed to enjoy a normal or mainstream lifestyle in the country in which they live, according to the report. 

While the proportion of the population that fell below the relative poverty line has fluctuated over the 16-year survey period, HILDA noted an overall downward trend that has curved back upwards.

In 2007, 12.4 per cent of Australia’s population was in relative poverty, representing the highest overall proportion over the period studied. 

This number had fallen to 9.6 per cent in 2016, before increasing again to 10.4 per cent in 2017, the last year of reported results.

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GFC data shows no improvement to Australian living standards
Melbourne Institute
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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