VIDEO: 10 notable trends from the new HILDA survey

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VIDEO: 10 notable trends from the new HILDA survey

Australia is changing, and some emerging trends may surprise you.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey tells the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Starting in 2001, the survey now tracks more than 17,500 people in 9500 households.

So what’s this year’s report show? Here are 10 trends worth noting.


Read more: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: what the huge HILDA survey reveals about your economic well-being, health and family life


  1. Household spending on energy has fallen since 2014, even as power prices rose. Maybe we’re using less power to cope with higher prices.

  2. Compared to the past, more young people now don’t have a driver’s license, or delay getting one til their late 20s. And 74.6% of men born in the 1920s still held a driver’s licence in 2016.

  3. The survey also looked at what factors might protect against cognitive decline as we age. Turns out brain exercises probably help - but not as much as you may think. The extent of decline over four years in one measure of cognitive ability was slightly smaller for those who regularly do puzzles, and slightly worse for those who regularly write.

  4. Despite what you hear about small business being the engine of the economy, the share of people who describe themselves as “self-employed” has fallen for over 16 years. And these people are not employing as many workers as they once did. The data didn’t show strong growth in the gig economy either.

  5. Our views about marriage and sharing housework are getting more progressive. But women are still shouldering much more housework and childcare than men, even as more women are working.

  6. Single parent women and elderly single women are more likely to experience poverty than their male counterparts.

  7. As wage growth has slowed, household incomes have stagnated. Growth in household disposable income started to weaken in 2009, as the GFC took hold.

  8. Home ownership has declined, more of us are renting and intergenerational inequality has grown.

  9. There is a clear gender divide in financial literacy: when asked a set of financial literacy questions, 49.9% of men answered all five correctly, compared with 35.4% of women.

  10. Australians, especially women, are much more likely to hold post-school qualifications than in the past.


Read more: HILDA Survey reveals striking gender and age divide in financial literacy. Test yourself with this quiz