How Aussie households spending has changed since 1984

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Junk Food
A meal of a "Monster"-sized A.1. Peppercorn burger, and Bottomless Steak Fries is seen at a Red Robin restaurant in Foxboro, Massachusetts July 30, 2014. If combined with a Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake, the dish was listed as the single unhealthiest meal to appear on the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest's (CSPI) Xtreme Eating Awards for 2014. The meal contains a grand total of 3,540 calories, three-and-a-half days' saturated fat (69 grams), and four days' worth of sodium (6,280 mg), according to the CSPI. Reuters/Dominick Reuter

The 2015-16 Household Expenditure Survey (HES) released on Wednesday revealed that more than half the money Aussie households spend on goods and services per week goes to basics - on average, $846 out of $1,425 spent. Spending on basics rose to 59 percent in 2015-16.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)’s survey shows that an increasing portion of weekly outlays is spent on basics. The latest data can be compared from that in 1984 when spending on basics accounted for 56 percent of weekly household spending.

“We can broadly think about household spending as either being for basics or for discretionary purchases – with basics covering essentials such as housing, food, energy, health care and transport,” Bruce Hockman, ABS chief economist, said. He noted how the pattern of household spending has changed considerably since 1984.

The biggest contributors to household spending were food (20 percent), transport (16 percent) and housing (13 percent) in 1984. In 2015-16, housing has moved to become the biggest contributor (20 percent), followed by food, which also reportedly  include expenditure on non-alcoholic beverages and meals out (17 percent), and transport costs (15 percent). Interest payments on mortgages, rates, home and content insurance, expenditure on rent and repairs and maintenance are said to be included in housing spending.

The largest increases in spending on goods and services by households since the last survey in 2009-10 have been in education at 44 percent. Household services and operations followed at 30 percent. These include pest control services and cleaning products, then energy (26 percent), health care (26 percent) and housing (25 percent).

Hockman further revealed that in 2015-16, 1.3 million Aussie households (15 percent) reported 4 or more markers of financial stress. It was down compared to 16 percent in 2009-10. Moreover, the proportion of Aussie households who did not report experiencing any markers of financial stress has steadily increased. It is now 59 percent in 2015-16 from 54 percent in 2009-10.

Meanwhile, no significant change occurred when it comes to clothing and footwear, household furnishings and even alcohol and tobacco from six years ago. The ABS has also revealed that income and wealth inequality have been stable since 2013-14.

The survey is titled “Survey of Income and Housing,” the largest survey of income and wealth in the country. It provides an important measure of inequality according to a media release published at the ABS site.

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