There is a mendicant underclass in Australia, and I’m sure you know exactly
the sort of person I mean. This particular species of moocher demands generous subventions from the taxpayer in order to underwrite a life of easy pleasures, all the while refusing to work a day in return. The worst part is how many of them there are. Over the past decade, their ranks grew by nearly 25%. Their numbers are at a record high
I'm talking, you understand, about babies. Did you know that there are 119,196 more of these odorous little cadgers than there were a decade ago?
The reason no one cares is that most of us understand that the Australian population as a whole is growing, too. The indigent under-2s have gone from 2.53% of the population in 2003 to 2.68% in 2013. Terrifying, ain't it?
But the simple arithmetic of numerator and denominator, which can be and is explained to primary school children, was too taxing for Geoff Chambers of the Daily Telegraph,
who yesterday reached for the smelling salts when he discovered that 20,000 people have qualified in the past three years to receive the disability support pension. This, Chambers pointed out somewhat mysteriously, is "the equivalent of five Australian Army brigades", leaving us to wonder whether he was proposing conscription for the disabled, or merely that his readers normally conceive of large numbers in units of Australian Army brigades.
Leaving aside the fuzziness of his numbers -- he probably means a net
addition of 20,000 in the DSP program, ignoring the much larger flows in and out of the program -- is there really any cause for concern?
Well, what if we compare the number of disability pension recipients to the size of the population as a whole? There are two things we need to keep in mind: the DSP is a payment for working-age people with disabilities, so we should restrict our gaze to the working-age population (between the ages of 15 and 65). Also, women used to qualify for the old-age pension earlier than men did, and so moved from the DSP to the pension earlier. So in our definition of the working-age population we only consider women under 60. Making those adjustments, what do we find?
Proportion of working-age population receiving DSP