Australia may have dodged the bullet that has put the US, Britain and most European economies on life support, but our 2009 collection of essays shows that – despite our enviable economic position – Australia is not the egalitarian paradise that many believe it to be.Equality Speaks features an eclectic mix of writers who highlight a common challenge – to use our (relatively) stable economic times to make the shift to a fairer Australia. It brings together some of our sharpest minds to look at paths to a more equal Australia in areas like transport, homelessness, education, women, tax, refugees, work and employment amongst others. It includes new research on the distribution of wealth in Australia.
"Economic inequality causes social stress. There is now mounting evidence linking inequality to ill health, crime, greater stresses on social services and lower levels of overall happiness in society." Stilwell and Primrose
Catalyst commissioned the National Centre for Social and Economic modeling (NATSEM) to conduct a study of contemporary trends in wealth distribution. This data has been reviewed by Frank Stilwell with David Primrose in Wealth distribution in Australia, which builds on previous research in this area by Frank Stilwell and Kirrily Jordan.
The NATSEM data shows that wealth inequities remain entrenched. These distinctions are particularly stark between men and women, between people working in different occupations and between households of couples (with and without children) compared with single person households, sole parents, or couples under 25 years old.
Despite a recent economic boom, wealth has remained concentrated among a small proportion of the population who are high income earners. Six per cent of people who earn $100,000 or above have an average wealth in the range of $236,800 to $534,400 while 60 per cent of the population who earn up to $50,000 per annum have an average wealth of between $67,800 and $92,000.