Population by main source of household income

This chart shows the main sources of household income in Australia. 2019-20: Wages and salaries were the largest income source (77% of all income), followed by investment and other income (10%), social security payments, including Family Tax Benefits (8%), and own-business income (4%). 2017-18: The main source of household income is wages and salaries, at 75%. Of the remainder, 8% are social security payments, 5% self employed and 12% from other sources (mainly investments). 2015-16: For most people in Australia, the main source of household income is wages and salaries, at 69%. Of the remainder, 18% are in households relying mainly on social security payments, 5% on income from self-employment and 8% from other sources (mainly investments).


Profile of poverty by age (% of people in poverty)

These graphs show the the number of people living in poverty divided by age groups, by 50% and 60% median income poverty lines, in 2017-18 and 2015-16. 2017-18 The largest age group below the poverty line is those of working age (35-64 years), at 45% of all people in poverty (43% using the 60% of median income poverty line). This reflects their high share (53%) of the overall population. 2015-16 The largest group below the poverty line was those of working age (25-64 years), at 48.1% of all people in poverty (43.7% using the 60% median income poverty line) reflecting their high share (53%) of the overall population.


Profile of poverty among children

These graphs display the number of children living in poverty, divided by household type, by 50% and 60% median income poverty lines, for 2017-18 and 2015-16. 2017-18 This graph shows that most children in poverrty live in couple households (57.1% based on the 50% median income poverty line, and 60.7% based on the 60% median income poverty line).  This is because the vast majority of children (82%) live in couple households. However, children in sole parent households are over-represented, at 41.4% and 36.1% of all children in poverty. 2015-16 This graph displays the number of children living in poverty, divided into their household type. It shows that most children in poverty live in couple households (61% based on 50% of median income poverty line, and 63% based on the 60% poverty line). This is because the vast majority of children (83%) live in couple households. However, children in sole parent households are over-represented, at 38% and 34% of all children in poverty.


Rate of poverty among children

This graph shows the rate of poverty among  all children according to the 50% and 60% median income poverty lines, in 2017-18 and 2015-16. In 2017-18, 17.7% of all children were living in households experiencing poverty, rising to 25.7% when the 60% poverty line is used. The risk of poverty is highest for children in sole parent families, which is three times that for children in couple families according to the 50% poverty line (44.2% compared with 12.7%). In 2015-16, 17.3% of all children were living in households experiencing poverty, rising to 26% when the 60% poverty line is used. The risk of poverty is highest for children in sole parent families, which is three times that for children in couple families according to the 50% poverty line (39.4% compared with 13.1%).


Rate of poverty by age (% of people)

This graph displays the rate of poverty among all people by age groups. 2017-18:  Among children, the rate of poverty is 17.7% based on the 50% of median income poverty line, and 25.5% when using the 60% poverty line. The poverty rate among young people (15-24 years) is also above average at 13.9% (20.2% when the 60% of median income poverty line is used). Among people aged 25 to 64 years, poverty rates are somewhat lower (at 12.1% and 17.6% at the 50% and 60% of median income poverty lines respectively). People 65 years and over who own or are buying their home are less likely to experience poverty than the rest of the population when the 50% poverty line is used (10.3%) but more likely when the 60% poverty line is used (23.7%). This figure also shows the profound impact of housing costs on poverty rates among older people by displaying the poverty rate among the 10% of older people who rent their homes, which is considerably higher than that of older people who own their homes, at…


Level of income inequality in OECD countries

These charts compare overall income inequality in OECD countries, using the Gini coefficient, for which a higher score represents greater inequality. 2019-20: The chart shows that income inequality in Australia in 2021 or latest available date is close to the average level for wealthy nations, based on OECD data. 2017-18: The chart shows that income inequality in Australia in 2018 - the latest date for which comparative data is available - was close to the average level for wealthy nations. 2015-16: It shows that income inequality in Australia in 2015 – the latest date for which comparative data is available – was higher than the OECD average. Australia sits between other English-speaking countries, above Canada but below the United States and the United Kingdom; and alongside some countries with lower income levels, like Greece and Portugal. Most European countries had much lower income inequality than Australia.


Poverty Lines by family type

This shows relative poverty in Australia using poverty lines of 50% and 60% of national median household income. More information on the definitions of poverty and different ways of measuring poverty can be found on our poverty page and our FAQ page. It also shows the poverty lines before and after housing costs are taken into account. Housing costs vary considerably among households, depending on whether those households are owners, purchasers or tenants and what part of Australia those households live in. In order to take into account the varying costs of housing, a separate set of ‘after housing costs’ poverty lines is used. This set is created by removing housing costs from disposable income before calculating the median income. This is a measure of the income required to pay for essentials other than housing. 2017-18: The table shows that the poverty line in 2017-18 for a single adult based on disposable income with no allowance for housing costs (the ‘before housing costs’…


Number of people below the poverty line

This table shows the number and percentage of people who live below the 50% and 60% of median income poverty lines in 2015-16 and 2017-18. It also shows the ‘poverty gap’, a measure of the depth of poverty for those living below the poverty line (the average gap between the incomes of people in poverty and the poverty line). It is important to measure poverty gaps, because even if the rate of poverty is reduced, this could still leave many people living well below the poverty line. 2017-18 After taking account of housing costs, over one in eight people (13.6%) live below the 50% of median income poverty line. The poverty rate among children is much higher, over one in six children (17.7%). The poverty rate among young people (aged 15-24) is 13.9%.  There  are 3,239,000 people living in poverty in Australia. This figure includes 774,000 children and 424,800 young people. The ‘poverty gap’ is 42% of the poverty line, or $282 a week. That is, people below the poverty line have incomes…


Trends in the poverty gap

This graph shows the average poverty gap for all people living below the poverty line, in dollars per week. These figures are indexed for inflation and are expressed in constant 2017-18 values. They are not adjusted for household size, so the average poverty gaps are boosted by the bigger gaps for larger households. It shows that average poverty gaps increased after 2007.


Trends in the poverty gap as a percentage of poverty line, 1999-00 to 2017-18

This graph measures the poverty gap (the average gap between the household incomes of those in poverty and the poverty line) as a percentage of the poverty line. It shows that the average gap between the household incomes of those in poverty and the poverty line rose from 34.3% of the poverty line in 1999-00 to 40.8% in 2003, fell in the boom years to 36.3% in 2007-08, then rose in sawtooth fashion to 44.2% in 2017-18. Broadly speaking, this is the opposite pattern to the trends in poverty rates. This reflects the changing composition of households below the poverty line. For example, a growing number of older people fell below the poverty line during the boom years from 2003 to 2007, but (relative to others in poverty such as people on Newstart Allowance) their average incomes were not as far below the line. The 2009 pension increase lifted many older people above the poverty line, increasing the share of people below the line with much lower incomes.