Hard times: Australian households and financial insecurity

Dina Bowman and Marcus Banks

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

At a glance

A lot of households in Australia doing it tough, whether it’s because of low or irregular wages, a welfare system with changing rules, rising living costs or a combination of factors.

Through interviews and surveys the authors of this report learned from Melburnians living with low and uncertain incomes about the strategies they use to make ends meet.

Dive deeper

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.

Last updated on 16 June 2020



In this series

By Marcus Banks and Dina Bowman 2017

To understand why people on low incomes do or do not take out insurance we need to understand their overall financial circumstances and the multiple risks they face.

Read report