Whenever interest rates go up, some journalists seem to forget that most Australians don’t have a mortgage. So, here’s a pre-emptive note: most of us either own our homes outright, or we rent. Here’s some Census data:

Household tenure type Number of dwellings Proportion of all households Number of people Proportion of all people
Owner without a mortgage 2,679,200 33.2% 5,918,700 28.7%
Owner with a mortgage 2,835,200 35.1% 8,671,700 42.0%
Renter 2,399,900 29.7% 5,742,500 27.8%
Other 163,000.0 2.0% 310,300 1.5%

35.1% of households are owned by mortgagors. 42% of people live in mortgaged houses. That’s a lot of people, the biggest of any household tenure type, but it tends to be forgotten that nearly six million of us live in rented properties.

Whenever the cash rate creeps up by 25 basis points it’s front page news, portrayed in our more sensationalist media outlets as an economic disaster of near-apocalyptic proportions for our perpetually stretched mortgage belt. I seldom see similar hand-wringing when the vacancy rate plummets and rents soar.

Monetary policy is obviously important to the macroeconomy in many ways other than its direct effect on people with mortgages, and the effect on those people can be quite large. I’m not trying to suggest that it isn’t a story worth writing about, I’m just trying to put the mortgage belt in perspective.

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