Australian Bureau of Statistics
4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jan 2013
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/01/2013
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In 2009-10, similar proportions of men (37%) and women (34%) living in low income households experienced rental stress and a higher proportion of women (61%) owned their own home, either with or without a mortgage, compared to men (58%).
Homes mean a great deal to people in many different ways. They provide shelter from the elements, privacy, safety from harm, and the essential infrastructure needed for living with dignity. They can also contribute to a sense of belonging, of being settled and engender feelings of pride, security and ownership. [Endnote 1]
Low income households in rental stress
Most Australian households are able to exercise a wide range of choices over housing when making their decisions about the cost of living, savings and investment. But for many low income households, renting is often the only affordable option, and suitable rental dwellings can become less accessible when rents rise faster than incomes. When the proportion of housing costs to gross income for low income renters increases, it indicates that households are required to spend more of their available income on housing. This may occur at the expense of other household costs or savings, and result in a decline in overall living standards. [Endnote 2]
In 2009-10, 37% of men and 34% of women aged 15 years and over living in low income households experienced rental stress. Low income households, for this purpose, are defined as those households in the lowest two quintiles of equivalised disposable household income. A household is deemed to be experiencing rental stress if more than 30% of their gross income (less any Commonwealth Rental Assistance received) goes towards rental costs.
Rates of rental stress among men and women in low income households have not significantly increased between 2003-04 and 2009-10, and there have not been significant differences between the proportions of men and women living in rental stress across this period.
Men and women in low income households renting from private landlords were more likely to experience rental stress compared to those renting from public housing authorities in 2009-10. Similar proportions of men and women in low income households who rented from a private landlord experienced rental stress (42% each). This is much higher than for public renters, where 15% of men and 9% of women who lived in a low income households experienced rental stress. Men and women living in public housing often pay considerably lower rents than in the private rental market because rents are capped so that they do not exceed a certain proportion of income.
In 2009-10, around two-thirds of men and women in low income households who lived by themselves and rented privately experienced rental stress (66% of males and 70% of females). For low income lone parents with children who rent privately, 30% of lone fathers and 36% of lone mothers were in rental stress in 2009-10.
Home ownership was the main form of tenure of men and women aged 15 years and over in Australia in 2009-10. Excluding dependent students aged 15-24 years, more females (61%) owned their own home compared to males (58%). Lone female households were also more likely to own their home than lone male households (65% compared to 55%). In contrast, more male lone parents owned their home than female lone parents (50% compared to 41%).
Home ownership is a widely held aspiration in Australia, providing long-term economic benefits and security of tenure. For some home owners, the dwelling and the land on which it stands is a major asset, and for many it is their main asset. [Endnote 2] Home owners have greater security of tenure than most renters, whose occupancy rights are subject to review at relatively frequent intervals. Owners also have more flexibility than renters to modify the dwelling to suit their specific needs and tastes, to keep pets, take in boarders or run a business from home.
Rates of home ownership (with or without a mortgage) vary across the life span for men and women. Men and women between the ages of 15 to 54 years are the most likely to own their home with a mortgage, while home ownership without a mortgage generally increases as people get older. Females are more likely than males to own their home without a mortgage from the age of 35 to 64 years. However, more men than women over the age of 75 years own their home without a mortgage (80% and 74% respectively).
Lone male households are more likely to own their homes with a mortgage than lone female households (24% compared to 16% respectively), significantly more so in the younger age groups (15 to 44 years). This trend is reversed in lone person households where the homes are owned without a mortgage. Overall, lone female households were significantly more likely to own their own home without a mortgage than lone male households (48% and 31% respectively), with females aged 65 years and over much more likely to do so than males.
These patterns may partly reflect the older average age of lone women compared to men. Lone women who owned their own dwelling were on average around 6 years older than lone men in this group (49.0 compared to 43.2 years for owners with a mortgage and 71.3 compared to 64.9 years for owners without a mortgage). [Endnote 3]
People who neither own their own dwelling (with or without a mortgage) nor rent it from any source are said to be living rent free. People living rent free include those living with partners, friends or relatives who do not pay rent or board money, as well as those who live in houses that they do not legally own but which they have been granted permission to live in by the owners.
Significantly more men than women aged 15-34 years lived rent free in 2009-10 (25% of males compared with 20% of females). Keeping in mind that this rate excludes dependent students aged 15-24 years, young people living rent free may be doing so for financial reasons (e.g. saving for their own home), or for the convenience and enjoyment of living at home. [Endnote 4]
Among the older age groups in 2009-10, generally there were more women living rent free than men. The largest difference between men and women aged over 45 years was in the 65-74 year old age group, where twice the proportion of women (6%) lived rent free compared to men (3%).
Most men and women aged 45 years and over who were living rent free (67% of men and 53% of women) were in a couple relationship with someone living in that dwelling. A higher proportion of men (13%) than women (5%) aged 45 years and over living rent free were living with their elderly parents, while a higher proportion of women (15%) compared to men (8%) aged 45 years and over had another family relationship to someone else in the household (e.g. was a parent, aunt or uncle of someone in the household). [Endnote 3]
In 2010, similar numbers of men and women living in private dwellings made up the 1.1 million adults who reported having experienced homelessness at some point in the previous 10 years. [Endnote 6]
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Measures of Australia's Progress - Aspirations for our Nation: A Conversation with Australians about Progress, 2011-12 (cat. no. 1370.0.00.002) <www.abs.gov.au>
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010 (cat. no. 1370.0), Housing and progress <www.abs.gov.au>
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Survey of Income and Housing 2009-10, data available on request, <www.abs.gov.au>
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008, Family Characteristics and Transitions, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4442.0) <www.abs.gov.au>
5. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2011 (cat. no. 2049.0) <www.abs.gov.au>
6. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Australian Social Trends, March Quarter 2012 (cat. no 4102.0), Life after Homelessness <www.abs.gov.au>
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This page last updated 26 August 2013