1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Dec 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/12/2008   
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North V South
When Two Tribes Go To WAR

Anyone who’s lived in Perth is aware of the great divide that runs through the heart of Western Australia’s capital. You’re either a high flying yuppie from North of the river or a ute driving bogan from the South....

You’re either a blue and yellow blooded Eagles fan, or a dyed (purple) in the wool Docker’s supporter. Or you could live in the hills and wonder what all the fuss is about. But is there any truth to the stereotypes regarding people who live North or South of the Swan River? The 2006 Census gives us a possible way of answering this age old question by sifting through the myriad of demographic data, compiled by the ABS (free, I might add, from our website, www.abs.gov.au).

For the most basic of measures, population, we can see that the Northerners outnumber their Southern counterparts 728,936 to 619,758 as at August 2006. From this data we can conclude that North would win a game of tug of war through superior weight of numbers. However, South would have a distinct advantage if it were a game of tunnel ball.

Maybe we could consider who is smarter? In a game of scrabble or trivial pursuit, the Northerners appear to have a greater chance of victory as they are more likely to have a tertiary qualification. Nineteen of the top 20 suburbs for residents with a diploma-level qualification or higher were found North of the river. Only Waterford managed to scrape in to represent the South.

North V South: Statistics

Show me the Money
Education is fine, but there are some who say “he who dies with the most toys wins”. In terms of earning capacity, the bragging rights also go to the North, with a higher median income than their poorer Southern cousins. Of the 20 highest earning suburbs in Perth, only five lie South of the Swan. The folk with the highest incomes can be found in Subiaco, Peppermint Grove and Cottesloe, with median individual incomes of $829, $806 and $801 per week respectively. Political correctness prevents us from naming those suburbs at the bottom end of the scale.

But it’s not all about what you earn, it’s how you go about earning your money that really counts in this city. Starting with the world’s oldest profession, it appears that there is a higher proportion of sex workers and escorts plying their trade South of the river, but conversely, proportionally more lawyers live North of the Belltower. In fact the 20 suburbs in Perth with the highest proportions of legal professionals were all North of the River. It is debatable whether this can be interpreted as a point for or against the North.

Contrary to popular opinion, suburbs to the South are not awash with tradies. Golden Bay and East Cannington are the only South of the River strongholds of the 20 suburbs with the highest concentrations of construction and trade workers. This analysis seems to indicate that South of the River are more clustered towards the middle of the occupation hierarchy whereas Northerners are more likely to be found at the extremes. While the South has just 46% of the population it has 57% of the truckies (Road Transport industry). And if the city ever comes under attack you’ll have a better chance of surviving South of the River where 71% of our soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel (Defence industries) live.

But if nothing, else Perth can claim to be a sports mad city, at least in terms of watching rather than playing. Overall, the Southern suburbs can claim to have a higher proportion of professional sportspeople than their Northern counterparts. Ascot has the highest proportion, with nearly 1% of the population playing sport for a living. And maybe they can afford to go professional as it appears they can simply ride to their workplace conveniently located in the same suburb.The largest number of sportspeople in total is in Scarborough. Despite the suburb’s high total population, a count of just 27 sportspeople is by far the largest of any other area in Perth. Maybe there are some amateur surfers there that overstated their abilities on the 2006 Census form.

Where is the Love?
Turning to matters that some might consider more important than jobs and education, where do you stand a greater chance of finding romance? On average, a lonely young gentleman is more likely to meet a single woman between the ages of 20 and 35 if he focuses his search South of the river, particularly in the suburbs of Murdoch and Waterford, where roughly 76% of the women aged 20 to 35 are single. Similarly, an enterprising young lady searching for the man of her dreams is less likely to find him in Perth if she only looks North of the Swan River. Once again, Waterford and Murdoch are the best hunting grounds, where 86% and 84% of men aged 20 to 35 are single.

In general, the suburbs surrounding the three major universities appear to have the best ratios of young singles throughout Perth. Aside from the suburbs already listed, Winthrop, Dalkeith, Bentley and Crawley feature strongly in the singles stakes. The bleakest areas are commonly found around the new and developing suburbs on the fringes of the Perth Metro area, such as Secret Harbour, Tapping, Butler, Bertram and Ellenbrook. And if you’re looking for love, it’s not likely that you’ll have much success in Success.

The Big Question
But ultimately, the best method of working out which side of the river is superior is to find out the answer to the most important question: Who has the best access to the ABS website? Looking at the statistics on broadband access, it seems that houses in the Northern suburbs have a higher rate of internet access. Of the 20 suburbs with the highest rates of broadband connections, only five Southern suburbs made it onto the list. So North of the river folk are either better informed, or they spend way too much time on the internet and need to get a life.

The Final Verdict
So which is better, North or South? Both sides have their pros and cons, but it may come down to where you grew up, and your own personal preferences. Those North of the river cherish their leafy suburbs and beach lifestyle, whereas those South of the river enjoy the more relaxed pace of living and the cosmopolitan ambience of the Fremantle cafe strip.

Article by Phil Smythe and Paul Burns
of the Client Liaison Unit
and devoted South of the River residents.