Elderly singles make up 30% of those living in poverty

Thirty per cent of Australians living in poverty are elderly singles, according to the annual report of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia.

older woman

Thirty per cent of Australians deemed to be living in poverty are elderly singles, according to the annual report of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), with the report’s co-author saying the results should strengthen the argument for an increase in support for low-income families.

The survey, released yesterday, found that poverty rates in Australia were highest among the elderly and had increased among all family types, except for couples with children.

The report, released on Tuesday by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, shows that Australia’s living standards are falling and that median household incomes have not grown since 2009.

The HILDA survey is a longitudinal study that interviews the same households each year. It tracks the changes within households as well as movements across occupations, locations, income levels and other socio-economic indicators.

The survey shows that there has been no increase in median household incomes since 2009 and in 2017 the median household income fell 0.6 per cent to $80,095.

It shows that relative poverty in Australia, measured as disposable incomes that are less than half the national median income, or equivalent to earning less than $23,938 a year in 2017, rose from 9.4 per cent in 2016 to 10.4 per cent in 2017.

About 10 per cent of households are reliant on government welfare and receive more than half their income through government support measures.

Since 2009, the mean or average income has risen just 3.4 per cent, and to further exacerbate the situation, inequality has hit a fork in the road and is becoming entrenched.

The survey reported that 38 per cent of children in the poorest 20 per cent of households in 2001 were in the same bottom quintile as adults in 2017. Conversely, 31 per cent of children in households in the top income quintile were also in that quintile as adults.

The survey provides incontrovertible proof that household incomes and living standards have stagnated since the end of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

The co-author of the report said he believed changes to the welfare system introduced by the Coalition and previous Labor government were the likely cause for the rise in poverty rates and that the results “should strengthen the argument for an increase in support for low-income families”.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of attention on the lack of a real increase in the Newstart allowance,” he said.

“But that’s probably not the biggest factor. It would be things like progressively moving more people onto Newstart from higher benefits like parenting payment single and the disability support pension.

“We would certainly be concerned if the slight uptick in poverty rates we are seeing becomes a trend and we start to undo the progress we’ve made over the last decade and a half.”

Cassandra Goldie, chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), said the survey results clearly showed the welfare system wasn’t working.

“Australia is the wealthiest country in the world, yet we have people skipping meals, staying in abusive relationships and showering once a week because they are on the grossly inadequate Newstart payment,” she said.

“Newstart is not working – $40 a day is not enough to get people through tough times and into suitable paid work.

“Our survey shows people can’t afford rent, food, energy, clothing, transport, haircuts, dental care or Internet access, which severely hampers their chances of getting a job, especially as there is only one job available for every eight people looking.”

Do you believe there are fewer opportunities for children who grow up in low-income households?

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    COMMENTS

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    Chris B T
    30th Jul 2019
    5:14pm
    Two or more singles living in the same abode only get the the couple OAP or do they receive a single OAP each. Just asking so we are on the same page with Living Arrangements.
    Single living alone would be Hard to make ends meet.
    To Penalise a Married Couple with a lower Payment only Stands Up If All Singles living in the same Abode are Penalised The Same.
    Farside
    30th Jul 2019
    7:53pm
    Two or more singles living in same abode are regarded as singles. Couple is a defined term. Parent and sibling, two siblings, friends can all be regarded as singles. Even ex-spouses have been found to be singles if they can demonstrate they live separately even though under same roof.

    For Centrelink purposes you are considered to be a member of a couple if you and your partner are living together, or usually live together, and are:

    - married; or
    - in a registered relationship; or
    - in a de facto relationship

    A member of a couple is determined by circumstances including:

    - financial aspects of the relationship
    - nature of the household
    - social aspects of the relationship
    - any sexual relationship
    - nature of the people's commitment to each other.

    From 1 July 2009 Centrelink recognises all couples (opposite and same-sex).
    inextratime
    31st Jul 2019
    12:21pm
    I know a couple who are divorced but live in the same house and do not share a bedroom. They are classed as singles.
    inextratime
    31st Jul 2019
    12:21pm
    I know a couple who are divorced but live in the same house and do not share a bedroom. They are classed as singles.
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    1:58pm
    You must know me and the ex, iet...I also get carer allowance... all properly done, so let's now hear it from the envy politicians here...
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    9:41pm
    So much garbage tests by Centrelink to establish who is a couple and who is not! Hey, NO tests AT ALL if you can get a Politician's pension such as Ruddock, Keating, etc, etc, etc - they love that! Some (Barnaby comes to mind) don't even know when they became a couple, or which partner is effective from when! They don't have to worry about Centrelink!
    Sundays
    31st Jul 2019
    11:14am
    Children who are smart and self motivated can do well at school. The barriers for those on low income are things like not being able to have good food, clothing and being able to participate in school excursions and extra curricular activities that cost money. Often, they have a lot to do at home to help out. Likewise, the cost of further study can be a barrier. Sometimes they get a lucky break but often they have to take employment below their capabilities. It’s very sad that this is still happening to kids today, the way it was 60 to 100 years ago.
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    2:03pm
    ... and on your own from 16, after graduating at 15.5 (yes), and with a choice of junior income or student allowance (both below survival) can make military service a good-looking option... and in my family, only the richer side got anything at all... you had to be there...

    I note that many US troops in Afghanistan are considered 'economic recruits' - pay and conditions are better than 'outside' for many, and Elvis Costello sang about Oliver's Army, with its recruits from the impoverished once-roaring industrial heartlands.

    When an 18 yo Infantryman starts at $60k ............................
    Sundays
    31st Jul 2019
    11:18am
    I am so sick of hearing from the Government that the best form of welfare is a job. Of course it is but if you can barely survive it just grounds you down, they have no idea. Increase Newstart instead of constantly punishing the poor!
    Paddington
    31st Jul 2019
    11:29am
    Yes but LNP do not usually address poverty. They are more interested in the wealthy who vote for them. Sadly, this time, many poorer people have allowed them back into government. Addressing tax evasion by the upper echelon by closing all the loopholes seems to be not on the agenda of this government. Wealthy welfare would cover everything Including Newstart, pensions, NDIS, and much more. Sigh, this will never happen so the poor get poorer.
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    11:59am
    Sundays, this Government is only for the rich and creates poverty because of the rich benefit from it.

    Australians are rich to keep voting this Government in.
    inextratime
    31st Jul 2019
    12:25pm
    Bear in mind that if you do not have rich people, you have a lot more poorer people. Someone has to take risks, responsibility, stress etc to provide incomes for others. Its called capitalism. The alternatives have never made poor people any wealthier.
    inextratime
    31st Jul 2019
    12:25pm
    Bear in mind that if you do not have rich people, you have a lot more poorer people. Someone has to take risks, responsibility, stress etc to provide incomes for others. Its called capitalism. The alternatives have never made poor people any wealthier.
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    2:04pm
    Of course it is - now where are the jobs?
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    9:44pm
    Good question, Trebor - let all on Newstart send their Resumes to Morrison directly and demand that job he promised - pronto!
    *Loloften*
    8th Aug 2019
    3:57am
    inextratime.....bear in mind wdowed ppl who's spouses were diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer in their early-mid 50s that both needed to stop working, become a patient & a carer. Sadly the patient for on-going Chemo/Radiotherapies/almost wkly either GP, Chief Oncologist & Surgeons visits + surgeries, regular X-rays, Ultrasounds, CTs, MRIs, PET scans & full blood tests (just to name a few). If, as we did since in mid 20s & only used twice prior for small procedures, have Private Health Insurance the excess costs were enormous so need to draw on Supers when able, @ 55 in our case. The loss of Super in our most productive/highest wage earning yrs was also a factor. My beloved spouse of 40yrs managed to outlive his predicted "use by date" as he joking called it, by 7yrs. Not only were those extra yrs an enormous blessing for us both but also very stressful & costly re all above. We Baby-boomers didn't get any Super 'til our late 30s (can't exactly remember) & it was a pittance compared to todays %. I'm now poor, thru no fault of my own. Sure, I get the OAP but that's well below the poverty line (as obviously the Newstart is). So, those who manage to not get cancer & are healthy enough to "take risks" to provide incomes for others should be thanked, yes, agree - however, what abt those who were unable to do that even if/when they wanted to give it shot?

    31st Jul 2019
    11:39am
    After all of the preamble this, suprisingly, is the question asked: "Do you believe there are fewer opportunities for children who grow up in low-income households?"

    My belief is that when we grew up, we didn't know any other way than the way we were. We weren't aware that we may have been living in poverty or doing it tough. We were told to do our best at school to try and achieve as high an education as we could because, back then, a university degree guaranteed a good job. Apprenticeships were available for those who did well at school so education was the driving force.

    Also in that era, there was no such thing as a free university. Those students who did well academically, regardless of family circumstances, could be offered a scholarship to enable attendance at a university whilst those who had rich parents could afford to send their children to university but, without a scholarship, had to pay the full cost.

    So, my answer to the question is that I don't believe that children from low income circumstances have a lesser chance to succeed. The love and support of parents is far more important than money and can give a child the will to succeed.
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    12:03pm
    Old Man, you obviously are not from a really poor background.

    In this day and age more well off Australians have become selfish and greedy to help anyone that is of no value to them.
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    12:24pm
    Wow jackie, you have excelled yourself with your arrogance. What gives you the right to decide what a person's background is? How in God's name did you reach your conclusion? It seems that every post I make you feel the necessity to drop in a personal comment rather than a discussion on topic.
    McDaddy
    31st Jul 2019
    12:30pm
    It's fine for you to "believe" that it doesn't make a difference, but maybe the data contradicts your opinion.

    "The survey reported that 38 percent of children in the poorest 20 percent of households in 2001 were in the same bottom quintile as adults in 2017. Conversely, 31 percent of children in households in the top income quintile were also in that quintile as adults"
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    12:50pm
    I'm not disputing the statistics, McDaddy, I'm trying to answer the question as to whether those in the lower socio-economic group are at a disadvantage. The statistics suggest that 62% climb out of the circumstances in which they got a start in life. Conversely, 69% of those who, supposedly, got a good start have fallen below that beginning.
    Farside
    31st Jul 2019
    3:59pm
    I suspect people are arguing at crossed purposes and almost certainly different timeframes. Australia in the 50s and 60s was a very different place to that in the 21st century.

    The question asked: "Do you believe there are fewer opportunities for children who grow up in low-income households?" and Old Man identifies that it did not matter for 62% of the poorest 20% of households. Notwithstanding there is always a bottom 20%, it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions why the 38% that did not move up without knowing more about their circumstances.
    inextratime
    31st Jul 2019
    12:19pm
    Its fairly obvious that if house prices keep rising at rates higher than the c.p.i. as they have done over the past ten years then rents will increase proportionally. So if incomes do not increase i.e. pensions then pensioners will be worse off (rocket science) over that time. Add to that the increase in power costs and you have all the ingredients for a perfect storm.
    inextratime
    31st Jul 2019
    12:19pm
    Its fairly obvious that if house prices keep rising at rates higher than the c.p.i. as they have done over the past ten years then rents will increase proportionally. So if incomes do not increase i.e. pensions then pensioners will be worse off (rocket science) over that time. Add to that the increase in power costs and you have all the ingredients for a perfect storm.
    tisme
    31st Jul 2019
    12:30pm
    poverty is on on going issue for carers especially when /if their caring days end, no proper job no superannuation
    KSS
    31st Jul 2019
    12:38pm
    When did Australia become "the wealthiest country in the world"?
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    2:06pm
    **falls about laughing""

    For a few maybe ....
    Farside
    31st Jul 2019
    4:07pm
    not sure when KSS but in 2018 Australia became the country with the largest median wealth per adult according to Credit Suisse "Global Wealth Report 2018".
    http://publications.credit-suisse.com/tasks/render/file/index.cfm?fileid=B4A3FC6E-942D-C103-3D14B98BA7FD0BCC
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    5:40pm
    I dread to think what the countries lower down the scale are like.....

    I assume 'median 'wealth' includes a home that a huge mortgage is being paid on... as Land Cruiser or two that are being paid off .... **sighs** - obviously it doesn't work to include outgoings with incomings .....
    Farside
    31st Jul 2019
    8:19pm
    TREBOR, the wise old gnomes at Credit Suisse are known to be sticklers for accuracy as much as they are for punctuality!
    KB
    31st Jul 2019
    12:42pm
    II agree with Sundays. My daughter did well / I am on a single income. My daughter is motivated and intelligent. She did very well at school She managed to get a scholarship at uni university . Not in the jobs she wants but is well paid and successful. A lo too depends on parents and how encouraging they are. I do agree that there are many young people have limited opportunities
    KB
    31st Jul 2019
    12:42pm
    II agree with Sundays. My daughter did well / I am on a single income. My daughter is motivated and intelligent. She did very well at school She managed to get a scholarship at uni university . Not in the jobs she wants but is well paid and successful. A lo too depends on parents and how encouraging they are. I do agree that there are many young people have limited opportunities

    31st Jul 2019
    1:56pm
    I would expect that to be the case given the trashing of the employment base, industrial relations, increasing divorce, rising unemployment and age discrimination, along with the totally 'greed is good' approach of the many these days, along with their utter inability to actually manage a business other than by Robber Baron approaches.

    Many who worked very hard and should have been looking forward to a comfy retirement were thrown by the wayside - cast from the widow of the speeding train and into a snowdrift in their late forties and early fifties by inept and incompetent management etc, and then treated like scum.

    Recall that I've told you how I was homeless at 50, after owning to homes and working like a dog etc, owning a Jag and a Daimler... I became the equivalent of a modern day swaggy, at one time stuck on the side of the road with little petrol and using a campfire to cook etc... I always felt a painting of that would show me with my Falcon station wagon, and it would be titled 'Modern Day Swaggy with His Faithful Steed'.

    Not a joke. It's a disgrace the way this nation has gone downhill in the hands of the corporate thieves and liars.
    Farside
    31st Jul 2019
    4:13pm
    not making light of your misfortune but few back in the day would describe a Jag as a "faithful steed", even in its heyday. But all clouds have a silver lining and at least you changed that Jag up for a reliable Falcon.
    Anonymous
    31st Jul 2019
    5:41pm
    It was a Falcon - the Jag was a luxury - went like the wind, but needed a few things changed to make it a good all-rounder. Front wheel bearings was one... change to conicals ... but with air shocks on the back, rock steady at 120 mph ...
    Farside
    31st Jul 2019
    8:15pm
    oh when they were nice they were very nice, a colleague took me in his v12 for a quick run to Amsterdam (emphasis on quick) ... could almost watch the fuel guages falling! But it spent a lot of time off the road, just saying.
    heemskerk2019
    1st Aug 2019
    9:08pm
    trebor I can't stop laughing, you in a jag or a daimler and working like a dog just tell us when was the last day you did an honest day's work, talking about sprucing b......t, you got it all!
    johnp
    31st Jul 2019
    4:03pm
    The part that said
    ""
    About 10 per cent of households are reliant on government welfare and receive more than half their income through government support measures.
    ""
    Should read
    ""
    Current and Retired Politicians are reliant on government welfare and receive their exorbitant and obscene largesse income through government support.
    *Loloften*
    8th Aug 2019
    4:29am
    Yep johnp.....our greedy Pollies get their exhorbitant pensions & perks when retire or "kicked-out," & also keep 'em (paid by us, yes even we OAPs pay taxes on almost everything thx to the GST) when are offered/accept huge pay pkts by possibly supported lge companies whilst in office - most recently Julie Bishop. Our governments have been a farce for approx 15+yrs.

    31st Jul 2019
    5:06pm
    This appalling statistic shows just how badly the elderly are treated by the incompetent LNP government of mongrels. And idiotic oldsters voted for these bastards!
    Farside
    31st Jul 2019
    8:21pm
    'idiotic' is a bit harsh ... I think the term you are thinking of is 'aspirational'
    Charlie
    31st Jul 2019
    7:06pm
    Elderly, single, yep they talkin about me


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