Latest HILDA survey shows life in Oz before and during COVID-19

The 17th Annual Statistical Report of the HILDA Survey is out. We take a look at a few of the many interesting statistics on the lives of Australians.

Residz Team 6 min read

Cover image for Latest HILDA survey shows life in Oz before and during COVID-19

Families make up the highest percentage of households, the number of adult kids living at home is up, marriages are down, and the number of older women in poverty is becoming more prevalent and persistent.

These are just some of the findings of the 17th Annual Statistical Report of the HILDA Survey.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey seeks to provide longitudinal data on the lives of Australian residents. The same households and individuals are interviewed every year, allowing us to see how their lives are changing over time.

Here are just a few of the findings in the latest HILDA report.

Families the most common household type

A couple with dependent children is the most common household type with approx 41% living in this household type.

Households containing a couple (with no children), is the second most common type (20-21%).

Single parent households are the next most common (11%-12%).

People living alone make up 10% of households.

Important trends noted in household makeup

The proportion of people living in multiple family households rose between 2001 and 2020 by 1.5 percentage points to 4.2%

Couple households with dependent children have fallen collectively by 0.9 percentage points.

More households have young adults living at home

The proportion of young adults living in the parental home has grown since 2001. In 2001, 7.3% of men and 36.7% of women aged 18 to 29 were living with their parents, while the proportions for 2020 were 55.1% of men and 48.4% of women.

Victoria, the state experiencing the most COVID-19 lockdowns, saw even higher numbers: the

proportion of men living with their parents in Victoria rose by 1.1 percentage points between 2019 and 2020 (from 61.1% to 62.2%).

In contrast, the proportion of women living with their parents in Victoria decreased slightly, by 0.3 percentage points, between 2019 and 2020.

Decline in the number of marriages, but de facto is up

A decline in the proportion of the population that is married is evident, mirrored to a significant

extent by growth in de facto relationships.

For men, the decline in marriage is predominately among those aged 40 and over, whereas for women, the drop is evident in all age ranges. Growth in de facto relationships is noticeable for all age groups, for both men and women.

Poverty prevalent for older women

For people aged 65 and over at the start of the 10-year period, poverty is both more prevalent

and more persistent.

Indeed, for women, it was more common to be in poverty (based on total income) in seven or more of the 10 years from 2001 to 2010 than it was to avoid poverty in all 10 years—28.4% were in poverty in seven or more years, whereas only 23.0% were never in poverty.

Similar to what is found for working-age people, older men are less likely to experience

poverty, and less likely to experience entrenched poverty, than older women.

Financial stress factors

Experience of financial stress refers to an inability to meet basic financial commitments because of a shortage of money. Each year survey respondents are asked Since January [survey year] did any of the following happen to you because of a shortage of money?

They are then asked to indicate which (if any) of the following seven events had occurred:

a. Could not pay electricity, gas or telephone bills on time

b. Could not pay the mortgage or rent on time

c. Pawned or sold something

d. Went without meals

e. Was unable to heat home

f. Asked for financial help from friends or family

g. Asked for help from welfare/community organisations

This graph shows which factors are causing the most financial stress.

Spending on groceries, alcohol and tobacco went up

Unsurprisingly, mean expenditure on groceries increased between 2019 and 2020, while expenditure on meals eaten out decreased, particularly (but not only) in Victoria. Strikingly, expenditure on alcohol increased by approximately 8% across the country, while expenditure on

tobacco rose by 18.1% in Victoria and 14.8% in the rest of Australia.

Petrol, medicines, car and home repairs and mortgage payments went down

During this time, expenditure on petrol, clothing, private health, insurance, medical practitioner fees, medicines, home repairs and renovations, motor vehicle repairs and maintenance, education fees, rent and mortgage repayments also decreased nationally.

1 in 3 Melburnians say life got ‘much worse’ during pandemic

There were broadly two waves of virus spread in 2020, the first in March and April directly affecting the entire country and the second running from June to October and only directly affecting Victoria.

It was during the second wave that Victoria experienced severe restrictions and this corresponded to the period in which most people were interviewed for the HILDA survey.

Melbourne had the most severe restrictions within Victoria and correspondingly had the highest proportion reporting life was much worse—33.1% of people aged 15 and over, compared with

25.4% in non-urban Victoria, 21.7% in urban areas of Victoria other than Melbourne, and 16.9% for the country as a whole.

1 in 5 Sydneysiders saying ‘life was much worse’ (but WA and Tas happy)

Sydney also had a relatively high proportion (19.5%) reporting that life was much worse because of the coronavirus crisis. Residents of Western Australia were the least likely to report life was much worse due to the pandemic, and Tasmania also had a low proportion reporting life was much worse.

Housing made a big difference to contentment during pandemic

In Victoria, people living in houses, whether separate or semi-detached, had lower proportions reporting life had become much worse than people living in flats or other dwelling types, which include nursing homes, boarding houses and caravan parks.

HILDA survey analysts say this is consistent with confinement to one’s home being “less of an imposition if one has a larger, more private and/or otherwise better home.”

1 in 10 dipped into savings during COVID-19

Few people sold assets or went into debt as a result of the crisis, but 11.7% of the adult population reported dipping into their savings, on average withdrawing $4,997. Dipping into savings was most prevalent in Victoria (13.0%) and least prevalent in the two territories (6.9%).

Suspending rents and mortgages attempted

Nationally, 5.8% of renters reported suspending their rent for at least some period of time, but

strikingly a further 5.4% attempted to do so but were unsuccessful, presumably because the landlord refused to agree.

Almost exactly the same proportion of home-owners with a mortgage attempted to suspend their mortgage repayments—10.3% compared with the 11.2% of renters who attempted to suspend their rent— but they were much more likely to be successful, with only 1.0% unsuccessfully attempting to suspend mortgage repayments.

This is just a snapshot of some of the interesting pieces of data in the HILDA survey. Residz also has an incredible amount of data about property and real estate.

Residz can help buyers and sellers reduce the stress:

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash