Economy

Jun 20, 2018

Generation games: how young people are getting more and more screwed

For young Australians, our economy has been becoming more unequal in recent years -- and that's likely to accelerate.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Last year, Labor and the government brawled over whether inequality was worsening in Australia. Labor argued it had reach a multi-decade high; the government claimed that the Gini coefficient, in Treasurer Scott Morrison's words, "the accepted global measure of income inequality around the word -- that figure shows that it hasn't got worse". That statement relied on keeping the period in question narrowly confined, because there's no doubt that since the Hawke government began its deregulatory economic program, inequality has worsened in Australia, though not badly as many other countries, even as all incomes have grown strongly in real terms.

In any event, the Gini coefficient is just one number for the whole economy. It's less helpful in explaining changing inequality between different areas of the economy, or different geographical areas, or between different demographics. And that's relevant now, because there's strong evidence that young Australians are doing very badly from our current policy mix -- and that that harm is worsening, while senior Australians are benefiting from it.

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