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1.1 FARMING FAMILIES BY STATE AND TERRITORY (a)
Around half (51%) of all farming families were couple families with children. This compares with 45% of all families in Australia. The category contributing most of the difference between these two groups was the greater proportion of farming families where the youngest child was under 15 years of age.
1.2 FAMILY TYPES
In 2006, there was a greater proportion of farming families who were couple families without children (46%) compared to all families (37%). This includes a greater proportion of farming families without children with a male partner over 55 years.
There was a smaller proportion of one-parent farming families (3%) than one-parent families in Australia overall (16%).
Farm family income
The most important economic resource for many households is a regular income, be it earned from a job or business, provided by the government as a pension or allowance, from superannuation or earned from other assets (ABS 2007). Land and Water Australia (2005) define the income of farm families as a reflection of the impact of commodity prices, farm structure, climatic and seasonal conditions, and non-farm income.
According to the ABS 2006 Census of Population and Housing the median income for farming families was $1,122 per week. Just over half (54%) of farming families had a gross family income between $500 and $1,399 per week and 30% of farming families had a gross income between $1,400 and $3,999 per week. Negative or nil income was reported by 3% of farming families. Family income is calculated by summing the individual incomes reported by all family members aged 15 years and over and includes any income earned both on and off-farm.
Comparison of household income to population
As there are differences in the family structure of farming families and all families in Australia, equivalised household income can be used to help compare the income of the two groups. Equivalising allows for the fact that larger households need more income to support the same standard of living as smaller households, and that there are some economies of scale in larger households due to the sharing of household costs.
Equivalised income is calculated by adjusting household income by an equivalising factor based on the number of adults and children in the household. For a household comprising more than one person it is an indicator of the household income that would need to be received by a lone person household to enjoy the same standard of living as that household.
In 2006, the median equivalised gross household income for farming households ($605 per week) was lower than the median for all households ($649 per week).
Overall, farming households had a similar distribution of income to the whole population. The equivalised gross household income of 49% of all households and 52% of farming households was between $400 and $999 per week. The proportion of all households with equivalised gross household income between $1000 and $1599 was 18% compared to 14% of farming households. However, negative or nil income was reported by 3% of farming households compared to 1% of all households.
1.3 FARMING HOUSEHOLDS (a) AND ALL HOUSEHOLDS (b) EQUIVALISED HOUSEHOLD INCOME DISTRIBUTION (c)(d)
(a) Reference person and/or spouse reported their occupation as farmer/farm manager.
(b) Families where one or more persons did not state their income were excluded prior to the calculation of percentages.
(c) Includes income from all sources.
(d) Census data on family and household income is calculated from individual income data which is collected in ranges. A median value is allocated to each range using other ABS data on income distribution, and those values are summed to produce family and household income.
Source: ABS 2006 Census of Population and Housing.
WORKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR FARMING FAMILIES
Cary, Webb & Barr (2002) identified that the decision to seek off-farm employment is generally driven by low farm incomes. Lim-Applegate, Rodriguez & Olfert (2002) found that operators and spouses with a tertiary education are more likely to participate in off-farm work and vocational schooling increases the participation rates of spouses. They also found that spouse participation in off-farm work seems to increase when there are lower levels of other income and decrease when there are preschool aged children living in the household.
Less than half of all farming family couples (40%) had both partners working as farmers. When the farmer was male, a third (37%) of their spouses/partners worked in an occupation other than farming and 18% reported not working. When the farmer was female, only 4.6% of their spouses/partners reported an occupation other than farming as their main form of employment and 0.6% were not working. Table 1.5 shows how average family income differs between farming families based on partner's occupations.
1.4 WORKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR COUPLE (a) FARMING FAMILIES (b)
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