The latest HILDA report is out! The HILDA survey is an extremely valuable resource – it asks a large sample of people a whole bunch of questions about income, family life, and other things, and tracks respondents over time. We learn things from HILDA that we can’t learn from any other Australian data source.
The Wall Street Journal examined some new US census data and found that the past decade was “the worst for American families in at least half a century”. They find that:
The inflation-adjusted income of the median household—smack in the middle of the populace—fell 4.8% between 2000 and 2009, even worse than the 1970s, when median income rose 1.9% despite high unemployment and inflation.
What a shocking result. It is no longer safe for American parents to assume that their children will enjoy a higher material standard of living than they have enjoyed themselves.
Absolute poverty has increased, the real earnings of the median American has decreased, and inequality has increased. Some of this is the result of the financial crisis and the ensuing recession, but rising inequality and stagnant real incomes for most Americans are longer term phenomena.
We should be glad that we have never completely given in to an American-style economic policy agenda of deregulating at all costs, slashing taxes at the top end and barely regulating the labour market.