Housing used to be Australia’s remarkable strength. Now, it has become a threatening weakness and it is a major driver of wealth inequality.
Rising property prices have increased the wealth of high-income households by more than 50% since the early 2000s, while that of low-income households grew by less than 10% in the same period. Rising housing costs are generating an upward redistribution of wealth, hurting low-income and young Australians the most.
The dream of owning a home is unattainable for most younger, poorer Australians, because the rise in property prices has outstripped wage growth for many decades. Unable to get on to the housing ladder, many people are destined to continue paying rents that can exceed standard mortgage repayments.
Many factors converge to create this situation, such as: wage stagnation, the increase of insecure and precarious work, low housing supply, and capital gains tax discounts.
How did we get here? What can we do to improve this situation?
Emma Dawson is Executive Director of public policy think tank Per Capita. She has worked as a researcher at Monash University and the University of Melbourne; in policy and public affairs for SBS and Telstra; and as a senior policy adviser in the Rudd and Gillard Governments.
Emma has published reports, articles and opinion pieces on a wide range of public policy issues. She is the co-editor, with Professor Janet McCalman, of the collection of essays What happens next? Reconstructing Australia after COVID-19, published by Melbourne University Press in September 2020. She joined the Board of Australia21 in June 2021.
To see the Per Capita report on housing affordability, click this link
Brendan Coates is the Economic Policy Program Director at the Grattan Institute, where he leads Grattan’s work on tax and transfer system reform, retirement incomes and superannuation, housing, macroeconomics, and migration.
He formerly worked in the Australian Treasury in areas such as tax-transfer system reform and macro-economic forecasting, with a strong focus on the Chinese economy. Currently he sits on the Victorian State Council for the Economic Society of Australia.
To see the Grattan Institute submission to the Review of the NHHA, click this link
To see Brendan Coates' article on housing inequality in "The conversation", click this link