Number 29: Income poverty, subjective poverty and financial stress

This paper focuses on financial disadvantage among Australians using data from the first two waves (2001 and 2002) of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey.

Four measures of poverty/disadvantage are explored in the paper:

  • Relative income poverty (households with less than 50% median equivalised disposable income)
  • Relative after-housing income poverty (50% median equivalised after-housing income)
  • Subjective poverty (households reporting that their household was 'poor' or 'very poor')
  • Financial stress (households reporting two or more of seven financial stress items from the following list: could not pay utility bills on time, could not pay mortgage or rent on time, pawned or sold something, went without meals, was unable to heat home, asked for financial help from friends or family, and asked for help from welfare or community organisations).


This paper investigates the extent of financial disadvantage in Australia according to these four dimensions, the relationships of these dimensions with other factors, and the interrelationships between these measures and their performance over time.

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