Hard times: Australian households and financial insecurity

11 September 2018

Dina Bowman and Marcus Banks, 2018

How do households with low and uncertain incomes cope with risk and strive to make ends meet?


Despite sustained economic growth, many households are doing it tough in Australia. Precarious employment, low and erratic wages, inadequate and increasingly conditional welfare payments, and escalating living costs are making life financially insecure.

The qualitative Spinning the Plates study examined the financial circumstances of people with low and uncertain incomes in Melbourne and the strategies they use in an effort to make ends meet. Data collection methods included interviews and fortnightly surveys. The findings indicate that addressing financial hardship will involve not only building financial literacy and skills but also a fit-for-purpose social security system and economic development to underpin secure employment.

Download Hard times: Australian households and financial insecurity (PDF, 471 KB)

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