When A Politician Talks About The 'Typical Australian Household', Here's What It Looks Like

Ever wondered what it means when politicians, public speakers and statistical reports refer to the “typical Australian household”?

According to the federal government’s Australian Institute of Family Studies, a household is defined as;

A group of two or more related or unrelated people who usually reside in the same dwelling and who make common provision for food or other essentials for living; or a person living in a dwelling who makes provision for his or her own food and other essentials for living without combining with any other person.

Thus a household may consist of: one person; one family; one family and unrelated individual(s); related families with or without unrelated individual(s); unrelated families with or without unrelated individual(s); or unrelated individuals.

We decided to investigate the oft-cited phrase and put together some interesting facts about the average Aussie household:

  • There are about 8.18 million households in Australia.
  • The average Aussie household with a mortgage pays $1800 a month in repayments.
  • The ABS says the average Australian household has two or more cars.
  • The number of households are projected to rise to around 11.5 million in 2031 (Table 1).
  • One-person households increased from 19% in 1986 to 24% in 2011 (Table 2).
  • The average household size declined from 4.5 in 1911 to to 2.6 in 2011 (Table 3).

So why is it so difficult to define the “typical Australian household”?

ABS household and families trends data says individual needs continually change over time in a particular household or family form, with the early stages often representing a crucial period of support (i.e. child dependency and education costs).

“However, in some situations, the need for support is likely to be high later on, especially when health-related issues increase the risks of living alone,” the ABS said.

As for advice? Earlier this year the RBA said “the average household is probably financially better off renting than buying”.

The information listed above has been sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the latest census data.

Table 1: Projected number of households and families 2006-2031

Source: Australian Institute of Family Studies

Table 2: Household types 1986-2011

Source: Australian Institute of Family Studies

Table 3: Average household size 1911-2011

Source: Australian Institute of Family Studies

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