Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1995  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/1995   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Income >> Income Distribution: Women's contribution to couple earnings

Income Distribution: Women's contribution to couple earnings

In 1994 women contributed, on average, 35% of the earnings of couples with children. When both partners worked full-time, women contributed 43%.

The proportion of couples with dependant children with both partners employed increased from 42% in 1984 to 53% in 1994 (see Family - National summary tables). Factors contributing to this change include a move away from traditional views of women's roles; legislation for equal employment opportunity and pay; the availability and acceptability of child care; economic pressures, such as periods of high inflation and high housing interest; and the desire for a higher standard of living.

Between 1987 and 1994, the period on which this review is based, the labour force participation rate of women rose from 49% to 52% (see Work - National summary tables). The participation rate for married women with dependant children rose from about 56% to 61%. In 1994, this rate was 14 percentage points higher than the labour force participation rate of married women without dependant children. This latter group includes retired women. The labour force participation rate of married women with dependant children varies depending on the season. For example, it regularly drops by about 4 percentage points over Christmas holiday periods. The participation rate of married women without children is less influenced by seasonal factors.

In 1994, among couples with dependant children where both partners were employees, the most common working arrangement (55%) was for the husband to work full-time and the wife to work part-time. In 42% of couples both partners were employed full-time. In the remaining 3% of couples the husband was a part-time employee. In contrast, among couples without dependant children where both partners were employees, the most common working arrangement (68%) was for both partners to work full-time. These proportions were similar in 1987.


Couple earnings

Couple earnings is the sum of a husband's and wife's total weekly earnings. In most cases it approximates the family's total income from earnings even though earnings of other family members are excluded. This review uses earnings data of employees to show the contribution women make to family earnings and is therefore confined to those couples where both partners are employees. Earnings are the major contributor to family income. However, they are not the only possible source of income so the review does not present a complete picture of family income.

LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION OF MARRIED WOMEN



Source: Labour Force Survey

EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF COUPLES WHERE BOTH PARTNERS WERE EMPLOYEES, 1994

With dependant children
Without dependant children


Husband full-time
Husband part-time
Total
Husband full-time
Husband part-time
Total
Employment status of wife
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000

Full-time
320.0
12.2
332.2
382.0
15.0
397.0
Part-time
416.3
11.3
427.6
152.0
14.7
166.6
Total
736.3
23.6
759.9
534.0
29.7
563.7

Source: Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution)

WIFE'S AVERAGE CONTRIBUTION TO COUPLE EARNINGS WHERE THE HUSBAND WAS A FULL-TIME EMPLOYEE

1987 - wife employed
1994 - wife employed


Full-time
Part-time
Full-time
Part-time
Couple type
%
%
%
%

Couple with dependant child(ren) aged less than 15 years only
43.7
27.5
44.3
27.6
Couple with dependant children aged less than 15 years and 15 years or more
42.5
27.6
41.8
24.5
Couple with dependant child(ren) aged 15 years or more only
42.0
28.0
40.8
27.4
All employed couples with dependant children
43.1
27.5
43.1
27.1

Source: Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution)


Married women's earnings
In 1994, women in couples with dependant children in which both partners were full-time employees contributed 43% of the couple's earnings. The contribution varied according to the age of the children. Women with dependant children only aged under 15 made the highest contribution (44%). Those with children only aged over 15 contributed 41% of the couple's earnings. In comparison, women aged 15-39 who had no dependant children contributed 46% of the couple's earnings.

In couples with dependant children in which the husband was a full-time employee and the wife was a part-time employee, the average contribution of women to the couple's earnings was 27%. Among these couples, women with dependant children both under and over 15 years of age had the lowest contribution (24%). Women aged 15-39 who had no dependant children made a higher average contribution (32%) than those with dependant children. There was little change in the contributions of married women to couple earnings between 1987 and 1994.

MARRIED WOMEN'S AVERAGE CONTRIBUTION TO COUPLE EARNINGS AMONG COUPLES WHERE BOTH PARTNERS WERE EMPLOYEES, 1994

Quintiles for couple's weekly earnings

Less than $761
$761-$960
$961-$1,120
$1,121-$1,400
More than $1,400
Total
Couple type
%
%
%
%
%
%

Couple with dependant child(ren) aged less than 15 years only
32.6
35.3
34.3
37.3
35.9
35.4
Couple with dependant children aged less than 15 years and 15 years or more
33.4
33.4
35.5
36.3
30.4
33.5
Couple with dependant child(ren) aged 15 years or more only
39.4
38.9
39.5
34.8
35.2
36.6
All employed couples with dependant children
33.7
35.5
35.3
36.7
34.9
35.4

Source: Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution)


Low and high couple earnings
The earnings of couples are directly related to their working arrangements. In 1994, 55% of couples with dependant children in which both partners were full-time employees had couple earnings over $1,120 per week. This put these couples in the top 40% of couples in terms of couple earnings. 49% of couples without dependant children in which both partners were employees were in the top 40% of couples in terms of couple earnings.

53% of couples with dependant children in which the husband was a full-time employee and the wife was a part-time employee had couple earnings that placed them in the bottom 40% of couples. Among similar couples without dependant children 64% had couple earnings that placed them in the bottom 40% of couples. Couples in which the husband was a part-time employee were the most likely to have couple earnings that fell in the bottom 40% of couples, 78% of those with dependant children and 86% of those without dependant children.

Overall, the average contributions that women made to couple earnings were similar across the couple earnings quintiles, the contributions only varying by about 3 percentage points. In couples with dependant children and couple earnings under $761 per week (the lowest quintile), women contributed 34% of the couple's earnings. In couples with dependant children and couple earnings of more than $1,400 (the highest quintile) women contributed 35%. Women in couples with dependant children aged less than 15 and more than 15 who were in the highest couple earnings quintile had the smallest average contribution to couple earnings (30%).

The contributions made to couple earnings by married women aged 15-39 in couples without dependant children were also similar across the quintiles. The figures were close to their overall contribution of 44%.

The small variation in contributions that married women made to couple earnings across the quintile ranges indicates that, when married women are working, their incomes tend to increase in proportion to their husbands' incomes.

EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF COUPLES WHERE BOTH PARTNERS WERE EMPLOYEES, 1994

Quintiles for couple's weekly earnings

Less than $761
$761-$960
$961-$1,120
$1,121-$1,400
More than $1,400
Total
Employment status of partners
%
%
%
%
%
%

With dependant children
    Both partners full-time employees
10.0
18.0
17.3
25.2
29.4
100.0
    Husband full-time, wife part-time
27.7
24.8
17.5
18.5
11.5
100.0
    Husband part-time, wife full/part-time
55.9
22.5
4.5*
7.1*
10.0*
100.0
    All couples with dependant children
21.1
21.9
17.0
21.0
19.0
100.0
Without dependant children
    Both partners full-time employees
9.6
20.1
21.7
24.8
23.8
100.0
    Husband full-time, wife part-time
39.2
25.1
15.6
12.2
7.9
100.0
    Husband part-time, wife full/part-time
66.1
19.4
7.3*
3.8*
* *
100.0
    All couples without dependant children
20.6
21.4
19.3
20.3
18.4
100.0

Source: Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution)




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.