Whiteford, Peter: Income inequality ticks down as the rich see their incomes fall: ABS

Peter Whiteford

Income inequality ticks down as the rich see their incomes fall: ABS‘, Guardian Australia, 13 September 2017

Summarises the latest survey of Household Income and Wealth from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The richest 20% of the population have seen their real disposable incomes (adjusted for the number of people living in the household) fall by nearly 5%, or close to A$100 per week. Most other households have seen no real increase in their incomes over the two years since the previous survey was released.

The author parses the statistical issues and points out the latest ABS figures ‘show inequality remains higher than at any period before 2007-08, but in the short term it is unclear what to expect’.

He concludes:

But even with the slight reduction in inequality, we are slightly above the OECD average, and there are around 20 OECD countries who are likely to have lower levels of income inequality than Australia. Overall, the data shows a relatively small change in incomes for employee households and for households whose main source of income is social security payments. Together, these account for 87% of all households in Australia. The reduction in overall income inequality in this period is therefore explained by the falls in income for the self-employed and for the “other” group – the group with the highest incomes and wealth.

Inequality has been a ‘special subject’ for Honest History: see the resources under our Thumbnail. It also features in The Honest History Book, particularly in the chapter by Carmen Lawrence headed ‘”Fair go” nation? Egalitarian myth and reality in Australia’.


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