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6530.0 - Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Summary of Results, 2009-10  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/09/2011   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE ON GOODS AND SERVICES - OVERVIEW

In the 12 months to June 2010, Australian households spent an average of $1,236 each week on goods and services. This is an increase of 38% since the previous survey which was conducted in 2003-04. Part of this increase can be attributed to inflation - over the five years since the previous survey, the price of goods and services, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), rose by 19%. Over the same period, the mean gross household income per week increased by 50% and the average household size increased from 2.53 to 2.57 people.

In 2009-10 the broad categories with the highest household expenditures were:

  • current housing costs, with average household expenditure of $223 per week, representing 18% of total household expenditure on goods and services
  • food and non-alcoholic beverages, $204 per week, 17% of the total
  • transport, $193 per week, 16% of the total.

As in 2003-04, these categories together accounted for half of household expenditure on goods and services. The next highest category was recreation, with average weekly household expenditure of $161 per week, representing 13% of the total.

S1. Average weekly household expenditure on goods and services
Graph: S1. Average weekly household expenditure on goods and services



DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HOUSEHOLDS

The level and pattern of expenditure differs between households, reflecting characteristics such as income, wealth, household composition, household size and location.


Household Income

Gross household Income

In 2009-10, households in the lowest gross income quintile (the lowest 20% of households when ranked according to gross income) spent on average $559 (152% of their gross household income) on goods and services per week, compared to $2,160 (55% of their gross household income) spent by households in the highest gross income quintile. This difference in expenditure is partly a consequence of household size: households in the lowest quintile contain on average 1.5 persons, compared to 3.4 persons in households in the highest quintile. Lone person households make up 63% of households in the lowest quintile.

Equivalised disposable household income

Equivalised disposable household income provides an indicator of the income estimates with respect to household size and composition, while taking into account the economies of scale that arise from the sharing of dwellings. The composition of household expenditure differs between equivalised disposable household income quintile groups. For example, food and non-alcoholic beverages accounted for 19% of the expenditure on goods and services of households in the lowest quintile, compared to 15% for households in the highest quintile. In general, the proportion spent on domestic fuel and power, tobacco and household services and operation also declined as equivalised disposable household income rose, while the proportion spent on recreation, alcohol, transport and miscellaneous goods and services increased.

S2. Goods and services expenditure by the lowest and highest equivalised disposable household income quintiles
Graph: S2. Goods and services expenditure by the lowest and highest equivalised disposable household income quintiles



Household net worth

Current housing costs is the broad expenditure group most related to levels of household net worth. Current housing costs comprised 27% of total expenditure on goods and services for households in the lowest net worth quintile but only 11% for households in the highest quintile.

For many households, the dwelling in which they live is the main asset. Households with low net worth are likely to have a high mortgage offsetting the value of the dwelling, or are likely to be renting. They therefore tend to have high housing costs, either in the form of interest payments on their mortgage or in the form of rent. Households with high net worth are more likely to own their own home with only a small or no mortgage outstanding, and therefore only have low housing costs. Only 4% of households in the lowest net worth quintile own their own home, compared to 96% in the highest quintile.

Expenditure on medical care and health expenses tends to be substantially higher for households with higher net worth, accounting for 3% of expenditure for households in the lowest quintile and 6% for households in the highest quintile. In part this may reflect the older ages of persons in the higher quintiles. The average age of the reference person in the lowest net worth quintile is 41 years compared to 56 years for the highest quintile. The lowest quintile has on average more persons under the age of 18 compared to households in the highest quintile (0.7 and 0.5 persons respectively) and the average number of persons 65 years and over is lower in the lowest net worth quintile compared to the highest quintile (0.2 and 0.4 respectively).

In general, the proportion spent on recreation, household furnishings and equipment, and transport rose as net worth rose, while the proportion spent on tobacco dropped substantially.

S3. Goods and services expenditure by the lowest and highest net worth quintiles
Graph: S3. Goods and services expenditure by the lowest and highest net worth quintiles



Social and demographic characteristics

The level and composition of household income and expenditure is highly related to the social and demographic characteristics of household members. For example, households in the lowest equivalised disposable income quintile were more likely to be lone person households and to receive government pensions and allowances as their main source of income. Households in the highest quintile were more likely to be couple, one family households and to have wages and salaries as their main source of income.

Households in which the levels of weekly expenditure on goods and services was significantly below the average of $1,236 for all households included:
  • households which rented their dwelling from a state or territory housing authority, with average weekly expenditure of $564
  • households which relied on government pensions and allowances as their main source of household income, with average weekly expenditure of $613
  • lone person households had an average weekly expenditure of $646 and lone persons aged 65 and over had an average weekly expenditure of $446
  • households in which the reference person was 65 years and over, with average weekly expenditure of $726.

In contrast, households in which the level of expenditure on goods and services was significantly above the average included:
  • couple, one family households with children; for example households consisting of a couple with their dependent and non-dependent children only, had an average weekly expenditure of $2,046
  • multiple family households, with average weekly expenditure of $1,621
  • households purchasing their home (with a mortgage), with average weekly expenditure of $1,594
  • group households, with average weekly expenditure of $1,531
  • households in which the reference person was aged 45 to 54 years, with average weekly expenditure of $1,502
  • households with main source of income of wages and salaries, with average weekly expenditure of $1,476.

Household characteristics can also help to explain the variation in the composition of expenditure. For example, housing costs accounted for only 8% of total expenditure on goods and services of those households who owned their home outright while households renting from private landlords spent 26% of their total expenditure on housing.


Location

The level of expenditure varied across states and territories. The highest average weekly household expenditures were recorded in the Australian Capital Territory ($1,536) and the not very remote parts of the Northern Territory ($1,500). The lowest expenditures were in South Australia and Tasmania at $1,044 and $1,064 per week respectively.

Expenditure also varied between capital cities and elsewhere. The average weekly expenditure of households located in capital cities was $1,310, compared with $1,107 in areas other than capital cities. Canberra ($1,536) had significantly higher weekly expenditure than the average for all capital cities.


Households in financial stress

A key element of people's living standards is the amount of discretion they have in their spending on goods and services to meet their needs. While ABS measures of income and wealth provide information on the main economic resources available to households to support their material command over goods and services expenditure and statistics can describe people's associated consumption patterns, these measures do not necessarily tell the full story of how households are coping financially. For example, households may go without key goods and services, or seek financial assistance from others, to meet financial commitments or to maintain other expenditure. The extent to which this occurs can provide an indication of the overall financial stress experienced by households.

The reporting of financial stress does not necessarily imply that a household has low income. Nevertheless, financial stress indicators decrease as equivalised disposable household income increases. For example, 64% of the lowest equivalised disposable income quintile have at least one indicator of financial stress while only 20% of households in the highest quintile reported an indication of financial stress. The ability to afford a holiday for at least one week per year and the ability to afford a night out once a fortnight are the most commonly reported indicators of financial stress at 25% and 19% respectively.


CHANGES SINCE 2003-04

In the 2003-04 HES, income from non-cash benefits was collected, but not included in total income or expenditure estimates. However in SIH 2007-08, non-cash benefits were included as part of standard income measures to align with international standards. The values for non-cash benefits have been included in the expenditure measures for the first time in 2009-10. There have also been improvements made to the collection of salary sacrifice data and its incorporation in expenditure aggregates. As a result of these changes, total goods and services expenditure using the new basis is $1,236, compared with $1,198 using the previous basis. The most significant difference is for estimates of expenditure on transport where the estimate using the new basis is $193, compared with $163 using the previous basis. Transport, current housing costs, household service and operation, recreation, miscellaneous goods and services and superannuation and life insurance are the categories which are impacted by the new inclusions for expenditure. See paragraphs 10 to 13 of the explanatory notes for further information.

The overall increase in average weekly household expenditure on goods and services between 2003-04 and 2009-10 was $343 (38%). Over the same period the price of goods and services, as measured by the CPI, rose by 19%.

The broad expenditure categories recording the largest increases in dollar terms in average weekly expenditure were:
  • current housing costs (selected dwelling), up $80 (55%), due in part to increased mortgage interest payments, up $35 (75%) and increased rent payments, up $32 (68%)
  • food and non-alcoholic beverages, up $51 (34%)
  • recreation, up $47 (41%)
  • miscellaneous goods and services, up $37 (46%), partly due to increased spending on education fees for primary and secondary schools, up $10 (107%)

A large part of the $54 (39%) increase in transport expenditure is due to the inclusion of non-cash benefits and salary sacrifice expenditure. Excluding these aspects transport has increased by $23 (up 17%).

At the more detailed expenditure items level, some of the most significant spending increases over the 6 year period were on internet charges (paid as account) (up 152%), pay TV fees (up 95%), interest payments on mortgages (up 75%), meals in restaurants, hotels, clubs and related (up 68%), child care (up 84%), rent payments (up 68%), meals out and fast foods (up 50%) and recreational and educational services (excluding holiday expenses) (up 50%). See detailed tables included as Excel datacubes on website for more details.

S4. Increase in average weekly expenditure on goods and services, 2003-04 to 2009-10
Graph: S4. Increase in average weekly expenditure on goods and services, 2003–04 to 2009–10



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