Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Income and Welfare >> Household expenditure

Peoples' income provides one indicator of their standard of living. However, it does not always accurately indicate command over goods and services, particularly when income is variable or expenditure can be financed through running down assets or acquiring debts. In these cases, the levels and patterns of household expenditure can provide an alternative indicator of living standards.

The latest household expenditure information available is from the 1998-99 Household Expenditure Survey. This was the sixth major survey of its kind undertaken by the ABS. It collected detailed information on the expenditure, income and characteristics of households in Australia.

The household is the usual unit of analysis for expenditure because it is assumed that sharing of the use of goods and services occurs at this level. If smaller units are adopted, for example person or income unit, then it is difficult to attribute the use of both shared items such as accommodation and household goods, and of expenditure on items consumed by others, such as food.

In 1998-99, Australian households spent an average of $699 per week on goods and services (table 7.10). The level and pattern of expenditure differs between households, reflecting characteristics such as income, household composition, household size and location.

Predictably the level of household expenditure differs between households with differing income levels. In 1998-99, households in the lowest income quintile (i.e. the 20% of households with the lowest incomes) spent $344 per week on goods and services, compared with $1,171 spent by households in the highest income quintile. Households in these quintiles had average (mean) gross weekly incomes of $156 and $1,109 respectively. Since the Household Expenditure Survey does not collect information on all forms of income and expenditure, and since there are significant timing differences between the different components of income and expenditure collected, caution should be exercised in comparing the income and expenditure data. Nevertheless, for both the lowest quintile and the second quintile, average weekly household income as measured in the survey is less than average weekly household expenditure. This does not necessarily mean that these households are spending beyond their means. Some of the households in these quintiles will have had higher income in the past and so can finance their expenditure by drawing on past savings. This is especially so for retired people. Other households may take out loans in the expectation of higher incomes at a later time. The lowest quintile also includes households who reported zero or negative income. These households' losses from their unincorporated businesses or investments equalled or were greater than their income from any other sources. In general this group can draw on economic resources other than income to maintain their standard of living, at least in the short term.

The composition of a household's weekly expenditure is also affected by the level of household income. For example, food and non-alcoholic drinks accounted for 19.4% of the expenditure on goods and services of households in the lowest income quintile, compared with 16.6% for households in the highest income quintile. In general, the proportion spent on housing, household services, domestic fuel and power and tobacco products also declined as household income rose, while the proportion spent on transport, recreation, clothing and footwear, and alcohol increased.

7.10 HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE AND CHARACTERISTICS, By Gross Weekly Income Quintile Groups - 1998-99

Unit
Lowest
20%
Second
quintile
Third
quintile
Fourth
quintile
Highest
20%
All
households(b)

Upper boundary of quintile group
$
300
550
881
1,364
. .
. .
Mean gross weekly household income
$
156
411
709
1,109
1,982
874
Mean age of reference person
years
59
53
43
42
43
48
Average number of persons in the household
no.
1.51
2.34
2.75
3.05
3.33
2.60
Household composition (% of households)
- Couple, one family -
- Couple only
%
18.1
38.8
20.0
23.4
22.5
24.6
- Couple with dependent children only
%
5.2
13.8
31.1
37.0
31.8
23.8
- Other couple, one family households
%
1.6
6.1
9.6
14.8
26.8
11.8
- One parent, one family with dependent children
%
7.3
14.0
7.0
2.6
1.1
6.4
- Other family households
%
1.7
4.8
7.2
6.4
6.8
5.4
- Lone person
%
64.9
19.0
21.6
11.3
4.8
24.2
- Group households
%
1.3
3.5
3.4
4.6
6.2
3.8
- Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
Expenditure (as % of total expenditure)
- Current housing costs (selected dwelling)
%
16.2
15.0
15.6
13.8
12.0
13.9
- Domestic fuel and power
%
3.7
3.3
2.7
2.3
2.0
2.6
- Food and non-alcoholic beverages
%
19.4
20.3
18.9
18.0
16.6
18.2
- Alcoholic beverages
%
2.1
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.4
2.9
- Tobacco products
%
1.9
2.2
1.8
1.4
1.1
1.5
- Clothing and footwear
%
3.7
3.8
3.8
4.6
5.5
4.6
- Household furnishings and equipment
%
6.4
6.1
6.0
5.5
6.3
6.0
- Household services and operation
%
7.9
6.7
5.9
5.7
5.2
5.9
- Medical care and health expenses
%
5.0
5.0
4.4
4.7
4.5
4.6
- Transport
%
14.0
15.1
16.0
18.3
17.8
16.9
- Recreation
%
10.9
11.9
12.2
12.2
14.2
12.7
- Personal care
%
2.0
1.9
1.8
2.0
2.1
2.0
- Miscellaneous goods and services
%
6.9
6.2
8.2
8.4
9.3
8.2
- Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
Average weekly expenditure on all goods and services
$
344
477
648
853
1,171
699
Estimated number of households
’000
1,404.3
1,441.9
1,425.3
1,425.9
1,425.5
7,122.8

Source: 1998-99 Household Expenditure Survey (6535.0).


Previous PageNext Page


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.