Inequality In Australia Essay

1243 words - 5 pages

Over the last two decades the Australian population has faced a number of economic instabilities that has seen the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ increase. To determine who the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are an in-depth investigation will be performed examining the circumstances under which the gap can be manipulated. The economic wellbeing of individuals is largely determined by their command over economic resources (ABS, 2009). The wellbeing of individuals who are classified as ‘haves’ are usually people who are asset rich, contain bonds, shares and are fairly affluent. The wellbeing of individuals who are classified as ‘have nots’ are usually the working poor, who have little assets and little investments i.e. bonds. These individuals are usually middle income earners which are categorised as being in relative poverty. Relative poverty as defined by L. Kirkwood, I. Searle, T. Cronk, D. Cave and J. Swiericzuk as the situation of people whose income and lifestyle has fallen below, by more than a certain degree, the average income and lifestyle enjoyed by the rest of society.

The upper and lower quintile is represented by 20 percent, however over the last two decades Australians are noticing a change in the gap between inequalities. In Australia a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that in 1994-1995 the lowest quintile of income earners was at 7.9% which in 2007-2008 was found to be 7.6% meaning that over the 17 years there has been an increase in the lower quintile by .3%. The highest quintile in the years of 1994-1995 was 37.8% this increased in the 17years between the two recordings and in 2007-2008 was observed to be 1.6% larger with 39.4%. This data indicates that the percentage of people in the lower quintile has increased with the distance between the upper quintile and lower quintile being further separated.
Australia is a market economy which distributes income to factors of production- land, labour, capital and enterprise. Income as defined by L. Kirkwood et al as the inflow of money to one sector of an economy from another. The distribution of income in the economy is in the form of wages, salaries, rent, interests and profit, all which are distributed by the factors of production (L. Kirkwood et al: 2006). Unlike income, wealth is the stock of goods and assets owned by individuals and the nation as a whole at a given period of time L. Kirkwood et al: 2006). As well as possessions individuals can also obtain wealth through education or obtaining a particular skill. It is with wages and salaries that determine the income and the next most important category government pensions and cash benefits L. Kirkwood et al: 2006).
In the 21st century the unemployed or sole parent households become reliant on income support and non wage benefits L. Kirkwood et al: 2006). In 2002, 8.6 per cent of GDP was spent on social assistance benefits in cash to Australian residents L. Kirkwood et al: 2006). Total welfare...

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