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Income: Who Gets What? Why? Essay

855 words - 3 pages

In the recent years, Australia has achieved sustained economic growth, low inflation, declining rate of unemployment and increasing growth of productivity. Structural changes have played an essential role in creating a more efficient and competitive economy. However, it created a serious problem, that is, the inequality gap is increasing dramatically. The rich are financially better off while the poor are worse off. As a consequence, a more divided society has been created. This essay briefly describes what is happening to income disparities in Australia and then explains why economic inequality arises, both in domestic and international perspectives.The extent of inequality has been rising sharply since 1990s and is high compared to other industrialized nations. According to Riley (2006) and O'Malley (2006), the pay increases for chief executives are six times more than they were 15 years ago while there are big wage cuts that the maintenance workers at Sydney Opera House are facing. Riley (2006) describes that the high payment to chief executives have significant impact on the rate of inflation as well as the generation of shareholders' wealth. In the 15-year period, the average annual increase rate in chief executives' pay is13.5%, which is much higher than the inflation rate and shareholder returns. On the other hand, the wage for one of the maintenance workers at Sydney Opera House has a rapid drop from approximately $900 to just above $700 and the annual decline is more than $10,000. (O'Malley, 2006). These are completely different situations that indicate the inequality gap is widening in Australia.To consider the reasons of greater income disparities in Australia, it can be due to some kinds of domestic and international factors. Narrowly speaking, the major factor of generating growing economic inequality is the persistence of high levels of unemployment in Australia. Unemployed people have to rely on government assistance, which are significantly below the average incomes earned by people in employment. As Stilwell (1993, p.41) points out that "the periodic regeneration of a pool of unemployed people as a 'reserve army of labour' is related feature which simultaneously facilitates capital accumulation while further polarizing the income distribution". Thus, high levels of unemployment rates tend to widen the gap between the rich and the poor.Secondly, the change in technology leads to an increase on relative demand for high-skilled labour. The use of new technologies such as computers replaces the low-skilled labour and hence increase the earnings by high-skilled labour compared to low-skilled labour. Some estimates demonstrate that since 1950, the demand for high-skilled labour has an accelerating rate of growth which was close to 5%...

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