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Comparative Analysis: Economic Inquiry

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Question:

Does Life In Australia Currently Offer Its Citizens The Opportunity To Have A ‘Fair Go’?

 

Answer:

Introduction

Australia, one such continent which used to offer a ‘fair go’ to all its citizens but unfortunately the recent scenario is not the same. As late as in 1967, the then prime minister of Australia Harold Holt could proudly state that there was no other country as this, wherein the entire income was distributed evenly amongst societies. However the said concept received a thud from 1980 when the historian John Hirst had written “Egalitarianism – see under myths : so runs the index entry in a standard sociological text on Australian Society.” The prediction is that Australia’s overall level of fiscal discrimination increasingly amplified as the time passed by in comparison to the trends observed in the advanced economies of other countries. The opportunity to have a ‘fair go’ in Australia has worsened over the years and the same is due to various factors such as the ever increasing disparities in the wage patterns, the affordability problems of housing and the increasing consciousness of the various classes of society. The essay focuses upon the present life in Australia and how it lacks to offer fair opportunities to all the citizens in various fields such as income distribution, housing and class discrimination. How these factors hinder the concept of a ‘fair go’ in the continent is discussed at length (Bauer et al. 2001).

Body

First and foremost, the fact that Australia no more offers a life to its citizens wherein it commands a ‘fair go’ is clearly visible by the kind of wage inequality that has been increasing each day. Although the past two decades has witnessed a growth of 75 percent in the actual household income as many have joined the labour forced earnings method which clearly shows that the number of adults working has increased, the part time workers have started to work for longer hours and the actual hourly wages has also seen an upward movement. But this spread has not been happening uniformly. As those in the top part of the income distribution have been witnessing more growth in comparison to the bottom half(Wilkins,2014). The said distinction is right both in terms of an individual’s earnings as well as the total household income as well. A person’s market income comprises of the labour earnings and capital and such other income as dividend from investments, interest on savings etc. Unfortunately the second part of a household income i.e. capital and other income is focussed to be more in favour of the higher income category and has been increasing over years. Thus the richer class is becoming rich whereas those at the lower levels of income are where they were stagnant. The wage disparity has been seen in Australia due to gender also (Watson, 2002). The disparity between a male and a female earnings is unrelenting characteristic of the Australian Labour Market. In May 2012, a female’s casual full time income was eighteen percent less than a male’s and the said disparity has not narrowed down yet. Although the average real labour incomes for the working households has increased from $1405 to $1951 in 2009-10 but with it the calculated diffusion or variation has also augmented. As in Australia, collaborating judgments and family circle concerto have been helpful in detailing about the inequality. Specifically, an augmentation in single headed households and the increase in level of assortative paling between couple households has also been a contributor to the increasing inequality in wage distribution (Valenzuela et al. 2014). Thus it can be rightly said that wage inequality in Australia deters it from being called a ‘fair go’ country, wherein not only inequality exists between two males but also between a male and female. The higher class are becoming richer and the poorer class are stagnated where they were.

 

The second example which distinctly reveals the fact that life in Australia no more portrays a ‘fair go’ is the housing affordability crisis prevalent. Well before the same is discussed it is very crucial to understand the meaning of housing affordability. It is basically a relationship that exists between the amount spent on housing and the household income. Often the term is confused with affordable housing, although the two are different. The latest report of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) Survey, by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has revealed that the median income of Australian Households has not grown post the global financial crisis 2008. Although the country has not suffered the brunt of GFC in comparison to the others, but that does not safeguard the same from the application of brakes. The income mobility in Australia is very stagnant. There has been stability in the income but the said increase in stability is optimistic for the higher cadre of the income group. However for the lower level the said stability basically leads to continuous lower incomes for years. Thus this impacts the housing affordability of many who are a part of the lower income group (Cashin & Strappazzon, 1998). The Hilda report also reveals that the home ownership has also had a hit which displays that the occurrence of a ‘fair go’ is non-existent in Australia presently. The rates of adults owning their own house has fallen steeply by around 5 percent from 2002 to 2014. The reason behind the same is the lethal blend of annihilate income and increasing prices of houses. The said distinction and disparity is witnessed amongst the first time buyers of houses. However the damage happened much before the global financial crisis. Those who are aiming to buy a house for the first time and are a part of the low income group has improvised but the condition is still worse as compared to what it used to be at the beginning of the century. If the relationship between the home ownership and wealth is analysed then one would not be surprised to see all the wealth flowing towards the older Australians i.e. those citizens who already own a house before the increase in the housing prices started post 2001 (Greenville et.al. 2013).

Lastly, life in Australia does not offer its citizens to have an opportunity for ‘fair go’ is visible via the class consciousness that is becoming prevalent each day. The concept of ‘fair go’ had faced a huge transformation as he continent witnessed a shift from a narrow-minded, isolationist majestic past to a modernised multinational culture. It is mostly a migrant country where apart from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, all are either direct migrants or their descendents (Blau & Kahn, 2005). Some of the egalitarian political theorists consider the facts, further stating that impartiality and even-handedness calls for a more equitable allotment of the societal resources and not restricted to only equal occasions. However there are various reasons attached for the same. One part says it is due to the beneficial social consequences while others confront the differentiation between the natural and social forms of dissimilarity. Around 5 percent of the household is suffering from what is known as “deep exclusion”, especially those individuals who do not have a year 12 qualification and those who are a part of public housing(Checchi & Werfhorst 2014).

Basis on how wealth is being calculated, Australia may be considered to be above average inequality in wealth distribution. As per general notion, inequality mainly points towards income distribution between the rich and poor, but even more essential is the difference in the value of the various assets that people own. The accumulation and acquisition of these assets determine the class to which they belong to in the society and their opportunities in life. Thus who gets what depends upon who owns what.

Recently there has been an increasing inequality and one of the most common methods of measuring the said inequality is the Gini Co-efficient, wherein if the Gini coefficient is 0 then it is said to have equality in income and if it is 1 then there is complete inequality. It is a measure of finding out any kind of income inequality which has developed over time and between the countries. It is highly susceptible to alterations in the classification of income and to the alterations at the level of median income since most of the individuals lie at this level of distribution of income.  In the year 2011, OECD reported that as per 2008 figures the average income of top 10 percent of Australians was almost 10 times more than that of the bottom 10 percent. Thus even though the politicians emphasis on the ideology of fair go in Australia, yet there are various instances wherein it fails to reach as per the said idea (Whiteford, 2014).

Conclusion

Thus on a concluding note, it is very evident that Australia was a ‘land of fair go’ but the same is now history due to the increasing income disparity. Australia can no more be considered as a country of equality and its wealth inequality is expanding and increasing day in and day out. This is one of the biggest challenge being faced by the politicians presently. Policies are being formed wherein they are trying to minimise the inequality. Thus an incorporated approach has to be adopted else the touching confidence of ‘fair go’ will be seen decreasing from the lives of the people of Australia.

 

References:

Bauer, T.K., Cobb-Clark,D.A., Hildebrand, V.A., & Sinning, M.G., (2011), A Comparative Analysis Of The Nativity Wealth Gap, Economic Inquiry, vol.49, no. 4, pp. 989-1007

Blau,F.D., & Kahn, L.M., (2005), Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality? The Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 87, no.1, pp. 184-193

Cashin,P., & Strappazzon, L., (1998), Disparities in Australian Regional Incomes: Are They Widening or Narrowing, The Australian Economic Review, vol.31, no. 1, pp. 3-26

Checchi,D., & Werfhorst, H.G. V., (2014), Educational policies and Income Inequality, Available at https://ftp.iza.org/dp8222.pdf (Accessed 18th May 2017)

Greenville, J., Pobke, C., & Rogers, N., (2013), Trends in the Distribution of Income in Australia, Australian Government Productivity Commission

Valenzuela,M.R., Lean, H.H., & Athanasopoulos,G., (2014), Economic Inequality in Australia between 1983 and 2010: A Stochastic Dominance Analysis, Economic Society of Australia, vol. 90, no.288, pp. 49-62

Watson, I., (2002), Wage Inequality And Underemployment : Australia In The 1990s, The Journal of Industrial Relations, vol.44, no. 1, pp. 88-107

Wilkins,R., (2014), Evaluating the Evidence on Income Inequality in Australia in the 2000s, Economic Record, vol.90, no. 288, pp. 63-89

Whiteford, P., (2014), Income and wealth inequality: how is Australia faring? Available at https://theconversation.com/income-and-wealth-inequality-how-is-australia-faring-23483 (Accessed 18th May 2017)

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