31 July 2018
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Statistics and Mapping
The results of the 2018
Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Statistical Report
were released on 31 July 2018.
The survey enables analysis of a range of social and
economic issues but perhaps its most distinctive feature is its longitudinal
nature. Questions are asked of the same individuals and households every year
which allows researchers to examine how aspects of their lives change and
transition over time. This report provides statistical information on 16 waves
of the study—from 2001 to 2016.
HILDA is a nationally representative longitudinal study of
over 17,000 Australian individuals residing in approximately 9,500 households.
The survey is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services
and managed by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne.
The longitudinal nature of HILDA data enables analysis of
the dynamics of the health and education of individuals, their labour market
experiences, and the income they receive. In particular it allows researchers
and policy makers to observe whether some individuals experience persistent
disadvantage such as relative income poverty and reliance on welfare payments.
The survey sample has been supplemented at various times due
to attrition of respondents (i.e. to make up for those who leave the sample).
The survey has also had been topped up to include recent migrants to make the
sample and survey results more representative of the changing nature of the
Australian population. Due to logistical issues the survey sample does not
include Indigenous and Non Indigenous Australians living in very remote communities.
The following are some of the findings from the 2018 report
that may have ramifications for social and economic policy.
Increasing use of paid child care
- 49.1 per cent of couple parents with children under the age of
five used paid child care in 2015 and 2016 compared with 41.0 per cent in 2006
- 50.4 per cent of single parents used paid child care in 2015 and
2016 compared with 43.0 per cent in 2006 and 2007.
Slowing in growth of household
- Between 2003 and 2009 average (or mean) annual disposable
household income (in December 2016 prices) grew by an average of 4.0 per cent
per annum whereas between 2009 and 2016 household income grew by an average of
only 0.4 per cent per annum.
- Median disposable household income in 2016 was virtually the same
as what it was in 2009 (at just over $79,000 in December 2016 prices).
Contrasting growth and decline in household
incomes in regional areas of Australia
- Growth in median household equivalised
income between 2012 and 2016 was strongest in Brisbane (up 4.2 per cent),
Sydney (up 3.8 per cent) and Other Urban Victoria (up 3.8 per cent).
- Median household equivalised income fell substantially in Other Urban
Western Australia (down 10.5 per cent), Urban Tasmania (down 10.4 per cent),
Perth (down 6.3 per cent), Other Urban New South Wales (down 3.9 per cent) and
the combination of the Australian Capital Territory and Urban Northern
Territory (down 3.9 per cent).
Little change in income inequality
The HILDA Survey indicates there has been little net change
in income inequality between 2001 and 2016.
- The Gini coefficient—which is a common measure of overall
inequality—has remained between 0.29 and 0.31 over the entire 16 years of the
- More recently there has been a slight reduction in inequality
using the Gini coefficient measure—from 0.30 in 2013 to 0.29 in 2016.
Declining relative income poverty
Relative income poverty is a concept used across OECD
countries to measure how many people live in households below the threshold of 50
per cent of median household equivalised income.
- The proportion of the population experiencing relative income
poverty has fallen from 12.6 per cent in 2001 to 9.4 per cent in 2016. This
outcome is partly due to the slight fall in the relative poverty line between
2009 and 2016 and the clustering of many welfare recipients close to this line.
Small movements in government allowances can move recipients above the line.
- Poverty rates are much higher for single elderly persons although
they have been declining since 2009.
- In 2016 the child poverty rate was 7.6 per cent—the lowest rate
recorded since the survey began.
- The poverty rate for children in single parent households (at
around 16 per cent) was more than three times the poverty rate for children in
couple parent families (5 per cent) in 2016.
- Three per cent of women aged between 18 and 55 years and 2.5 per
cent of men in the same age group have experienced poverty for seven or more
years between 2007 and 2016.
Welfare reliance is defined as having more than 50 per cent
of annual household income sourced from welfare payments.
- The proportion of couples with dependent children who were reliant
on welfare fell from 8.4 per cent in 2003 to 4.5 per cent in 2016, while
welfare reliance for couples without dependent children fell from 10.9 per cent
in 2002 to 5.3 per cent in 2016.
- In contrast, welfare reliance among single women increased from
13.4 per cent in 2008 to 15.4 per cent in 2016 and from 10.0 per cent to 14.7
per cent for single men.
- Of those people aged 18 to 55 years who received income support between
2007 and 2016, 46.5 per cent of men and 41.1 per cent of women were in receipt
for three years or less, but 14.5 per cent of men and 18.5 per cent of
women received income support each year from 2007 through to 2016.
Indicators of financial stress include inability to pay
utility bills, housing rent or mortgage payments on time; having to sell
something; going without meals; asking for financial help; and inability to
heat the house.
- In a marked contrast to the findings on poverty rates, the
elderly (people aged 65 years and over) were found to have very low rates of
financial stress (5.3 per cent of single elderly men and 6.2 per cent of single
- Single parents stand out as particularly prone to financial
stress (28.8 per cent), while nonelderly (people under the age of 65 years) single
men (17.5 per cent) and women (17.3 per cent) also had relatively high prevalence
- Renters in the private rental market, public housing tenants,
home owners with a mortgage, and people who had lost their job are the groups
most at risk of financial stress.
Individuals are experiencing housing stress if their housing
costs are more than 30 per cent of household income, and the household is in
the bottom 40 per cent of the income distribution. The main housing costs are
rent and mortgage repayments, but council rates should in principle also be
- Housing stress peaked in 2012 at 11.2 per cent of the population.
Since then, there has been a steady decline in housing stress to 9.6 per cent of
the population in 2016.
- Residents of Sydney (13.0 per cent), Other Urban Queensland (11.3
per cent) and Brisbane (10.5 per cent) experienced the highest rates of housing
stress between 2013 and 2016.
Labour market transitions
Men were much more likely than women to move from part-time
employment to full-time employment. However, it is also apparent that the rate
of movement from part-time employment to full-time employment has declined
slightly for men since the survey began.
- Between 2001 and 2002, 30.7 per cent of part-time employed men
moved into full-time employment, whereas between 2015 and 2016, 25.1 per cent of
part-time employed men moved into full-time employment.
Underemployed workers are defined in this report as part-time
workers who want more hours of work. The authors of the report found
underemployment has become more prevalent, but persistent underemployment tends
to be experienced by a relatively small minority.
- Around 10.8 per cent of employed persons in 2016 were part-time
workers who would prefer more hours of work (i.e. underemployed).
- The exit rate from underemployment—to a state in the following
year where the preference for hours of work was satisfied—was as high as 70 per
cent between 2007 and 2008, but has since fallen to 62 per cent between 2015
- Three years after becoming underemployed 73 per cent were fully
employed (working either on a full-time or part-time basis), 20 per cent were
no longer working and between 6 and 7 per cent were underemployed. Within five
years only two per cent were underemployed.
workers and the gig economy
- Between 2006 and 2016 the proportion of workers who were
self-employed without employees has hovered between eight and nine per cent
while the proportion that are self-employed with employees has fallen from seven
per cent to just over five per cent.
- The proportion of workers who are multiple job holders has fallen
from an average of just under nine per cent between 2001 and 2005 to an average
of just under eight per cent between 2012 and 2016.
- These developments indicate that there is little evidence of people
having to resort to self-employment to find work in the so called developing
‘gig’ economy and a slightly smaller proportion have needed to supplement their
income with additional jobs.
Time use by men and women
Men have increased their engagement in housework slightly
over time while women work, on average, more hours and spend slightly less time
- Mean (or average) weekly time spent on employment for men increased
from 35.9 hours in 2002 to 38.7 hours in 2008, before falling to 35.9 hours in
- Men’s engagement in housework has increased over time, from an
average of 12.4 hours per week in 2002 to 13.3 hours in 2016.
- In 2002, women spent more time, on average, on housework than on
employment (22.8 hours per week compared with 21.5 hours). By 2016, this
pattern has reversed due to a simultaneous increase in time spent on employment
and a decrease in time spent on housework. In 2016, working-age women averaged
24.9 hours per week on employment and 20.4 hours on housework.
- Women spend more than twice as much time caring for children than
men. Between 2002 and 2016 women in de facto relationships spent, on average,
around 28.6 hours per week caring for their dependent children compared with
13.6 hours for men. Married women spent, on average, 23.3 hours caring for
their dependent children compared to only 11.0 hours by married men.
- Higher education outcomes have increased substantially in a
relatively short space of time. Between 2001 and 2016, the proportion of the
population aged 25 to 64 years with a bachelor degree or higher increased from 22.6
per cent to 31.1 per cent for men and from 22.6 per cent to 35.7 per cent for
- The proportion of the population aged 25 to 64 holding a post-school
has risen from 59.8 per cent to 71.1 per cent for men and from 42.5 per cent to
68.2 per cent for women.
Returns to achieving higher
HILDA data for 2012 and 2016 shows there is a strong
relationship between higher education qualifications and higher earnings.
Compared with attainment of Year 11 or below a:
- master’s degree or doctorate increases earnings by 67.1 per cent
for men and 48.4 per cent for women.
- graduate diploma or certificate increases earnings by 64.1 per
cent for men and 38.4 per cent for women.
- bachelor’s degree increases earnings by 55.7 per cent for men and
38.3 per cent for women.
- diploma or advanced diploma increases earnings by 39.2 per cent
for men and 13.7 per cent for women.
- certificate Level 3 or 4 increases earnings by 24.6 per cent for
men, but does not result in a significant increase in earnings for women.
- year 12 completion increases earnings by 17.2 per cent for men
and 19.4 per cent for women.
The release of the 2018 HILDA Statistical Report sheds light
on a number of social and economic developments. These include stagnating growth
in average household income in recent years, a slight improvement in income
inequality and a fall in the rate of relative income poverty.
While the rate of welfare reliance has declined for couple
households, it has been increasing for single person households.
Underemployment has become a more prevalent feature of the labour market but
does not appear to be a persistent state for most of those who experience it.
More parents are using paid child care than they did a
decade ago. This has facilitated increased attachment to the labour market for
women. Men in part-time jobs are finding it slightly harder to transition to
full-time jobs. There is some evidence of a balancing in gender roles with men
spending slightly more time undertaking house duties while women are working
slightly longer hours which has been at the expense of time spent on domestic
Australians are much more highly educated than they were at
the beginning of the century and there is firm evidence that attaining higher
education qualifications results in greater financial reward.
Average annual growth rates were calculated using a Compound Annual Growth
Rate (CAGR) formula.
Equivalence measures are used in some analyses to enable comparison of the
relative economic wellbeing of households of different size and composition.
Urban areas are defined as towns and cities with populations of 1,000 or
more. Other Urban Areas are urban centres outside the capital cities.
A Gini co-efficient value closer to zero is an indicator of greater income
Elderly people are those aged 65 years and over. Elderly people less likely
to be engaged in paid work but are more likely to have the material advantage
of owning their house.
Certificate Level 3 or above
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