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Australian National Accounts: Distribution of Household Income, Consumption and Wealth

Integrates ABS micro and macro data to produce distributional information of household income, consumption and wealth

Reference period
2019-20 financial year

About this release

This release includes:

  • Preliminary estimates for 2019-20 on the distribution of household income and consumption by equivalised household disposable income quintiles
  • Updated estimates for 2017-18 on the distribution of household income, consumption and wealth by all distributional indicators: main source of income, equivalised household disposable income quintiles, household composition, age of reference person, and equivalised household net worth quintiles

The full suite of 2019-20 current price household estimates for income, consumption and wealth by all household distributional indicators will be available following the release of the final Survey of Income and Housing for 2019-20.

The data tables for this issue include some changes, please see 'Times series presentation' section in the Methodology for more information.

Income

Compensation of employees

Compensation of employees (COE) per household increased 3.5% to $94,149 between 2017-18 and 2019-20 with a:

  • 3.0% rise to $13,963 for the lowest income quintile
  • 3.5% rise to $40,395 for the second income quintile
  • 4.9% rise to $79,777 for the third income quintile
  • 3.9% rise to $123,490 for the fourth income quintile
  • 2.6% rise to $218,839 for the highest income quintile

The increases reflect COE growth in the health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services, public administration and safety, and education and training industries over the period.  Large employing industries which were adversely impacted by COVID-19 received the largest share of JobKeeper payments in the last three months of 2019-20. These industries included health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services, construction, and accommodation and food services.

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From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the third and fourth quintiles’ share of total COE increased marginally. The highest quintile’s share decreased slightly but still accounted for the largest proportion of COE. The share of COE for the lowest and second quintiles remained the same.

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Social assistance benefits

Social assistance benefits per household increased 9.3% to $14,829 between 2017-18 and 2019-20 with a:

  • 9.5% rise to $24,849 for the lowest income quintile
  • 9.8% rise to $24,672 for the second income quintile
  • 10.5% rise to $13,719 for the third income quintile
  • 7.1% rise to $6,690 for the fourth income quintile
  • 4.7% rise to $3,409 for the highest income quintile

The increases predominantly reflected a rise in the number of benefit recipients and the government’s COVID-19 support payments to households in the first half of 2020. While households across all quintiles received some COVID-19 support payments, the majority of new benefit recipients and people eligible for the initial economic support payment (one off $750 payment) and the coronavirus supplement (additional $550 payment) were in households in the lowest, second or third quintiles.

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From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the second and third quintiles’ share of total social assistance benefits increased, while the fourth and highest quintile’s share decreased. The lowest quintile continued to receive the largest share of social assistance benefits.

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Property income receivable

Property income receivable per household decreased 5.2% to $18,089 between 2017-18 and 2019-20 with a:

  • 8.0% fall to $4,761 for the lowest income quintile
  • 6.7% fall to $6,986 for the second income quintile
  • 5.7% fall to $12,550 for the third income quintile
  • 5.7% fall to $17,958 for the fourth income quintile
  • 4.5% fall to $49,162 for the highest income quintile

Falls in interest receivable and imputed interest drove the decrease across all quintiles. The decline in interest receivable reflects reduced interest rates on deposit accounts, particularly throughout 2019-20, in line with multiple cash rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The fall in imputed interest was driven by the negative impacts of COVID-19 on domestic and international financial markets which resulted in a decline in investment income (dividends, interest and distributions from investment funds) earned by superannuation funds in 2019-20.

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From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the lowest, second and fourth quintiles’ share of total property income receivable decreased slightly, with an increase in share for the highest quintile.

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Property income payable

Property income payable per household decreased 13.3% to $6,524 between 2017-18 and 2019-20 with a:

  • 10.6% fall to $2,560 for the lowest income quintile
  • 12.9% fall to $3,287 for the second income quintile
  • 12.5% fall to $5,367 for the third income quintile
  • 13.1% fall to $7,944 for the fourth income quintile
  • 14.5% fall to $13,759 for the highest income quintile

Banks passed on the multiple cash rate cuts over this period to all households which reduced interest rates on mortgage and personal loans.

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From 2017-18 to 2019-20, there was a marginal increase in the share of total property income payable for the lowest, third and fourth quintiles, while the highest quintile’s share decreased.

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Gross disposable income

Gross disposable income per household increased 3.5% to $126,906 between 2017-18 and 2019-20 with a:

  • 5.9% rise to $49,580 for the lowest income quintile
  • 5.6% rise to $79,004 for the second income quintile
  • 5.5% rise to $108,506 for the third income quintile
  • 3.6% rise to $140,364 for the fourth income quintile
  • 1.4% rise to $262,443 for the highest income quintile

Social assistance benefits, driven by the government’s COVID-19 support payments, was the major contributor to growth for the lowest and second quintiles. Social assistance benefits also boosted disposable income for the third and fourth quintiles, however COE was the major contributor to growth for the top three quintiles. Decreases in property income receivable and gross mixed income detracted from growth across all quintiles, while falls in property income payable contributed to household income growth for all quintiles.

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From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the lowest, second and third quintiles’ share of gross disposable income increased, while the highest quintile’s share decreased. The fourth quintile’s share remained the same.

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Consumption

Final consumption expenditures (FCE) per household decreased 2.8% to $100,396 between 2017-18 and 2019-20 with a:

  • 1.9% fall to $57,699 for the lowest income quintile
  • 2.2% fall to $71,108 for the second income quintile
  • 2.0% fall to $92,967 for the third income quintile
  • 3.4% fall to $112,991 for the fourth income quintile
  • 3.5% fall to $170,264 for the highest income quintile

This is the first decrease in FCE per household in the time series and is driven by restrictions put in place by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Spending on both goods and services fell, however the fall was larger for services than goods, driven by declines in spending on hotels, cafes and restaurants, transport services, and recreation and culture.

Total FCE for all households increased 2.3% over this period. This is the weakest rise in the time series and highlights the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on household spending despite only affecting the last 3 months of 2019-20. For comparison, the increase in total FCE was 7.9% between 2013-14 and 2015-16, and 7.7% between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

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From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the share of total consumption for the fourth and highest quintiles declined, with a rise in share for the lowest, second, and third quintiles.

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Saving

Gross saving per household increased 37.0% to $26,510 between 2017-18 and 2019-20 with a:

  • 32.3% rise to -$8,119 for the lowest income quintile
  • 274.1% rise to $7,896 for the second income quintile
  • 95.6% rise to $15,540 for the third income quintile
  • 47.7% rise to $27,373 for the fourth income quintile
  • 12.0% rise to $92,179 for the highest income quintile

The increase in saving reflected the fall in household spending due to COVID-19 restrictions combined with moderate growth in gross disposable income. An increase in social assistance benefits due to government COVID-19 support payments predominantly drove household income growth for the lowest and second quintiles and contributed to growth for the third quintile. COE growth between 2017-18 and 2019-20 was driven by the health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services, public administration and safety, and education and training industries.

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From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the highest quintile’s share of total gross saving declined, with a rise in share for all other quintiles. The lowest quintile had the largest increase in share but remained in a dissaving position.

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In 2019-20, the share of total gross saving for the highest quintile declined to its lowest share in the time series, due to significant increases in the amounts saved by the other quintiles over the period. The highest quintile remained the biggest contributor (15 percentage points) to the 44.2% growth in total household gross saving between 2017-18 to 2019-20.

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Redistribution of income

After the impact of government and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) redistribution policies (income tax, social assistance benefits and social transfers in kind), the share of disposable income in 2019-20:

  • rose from 4.0% to 11.8% for the lowest income quintile
  • rose from 9.0% to 15.0% for the second income quintile
  • rose from 15.8% to 17.5% for the third income quintile
  • fell from 23.3% to 20.5% for the fourth income quintile
  • fell from 47.9% to 35.2% for the highest income quintile
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Data downloads

This release previously used catalogue number 5204.0.55.011.

Data files