6530.0 - Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Summary of Results, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/09/2017   
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CASE STUDY - SPENDING PATTERNS IN A SERVICE ECONOMY: ACCESS TO SERVICES AND SPENDING IN METROPOLITAN AUSTRALIA


INTRODUCTION

The livability of our metropolitan areas is related to how easily people can access the services they need. Within our cities, the ease with which residents can access amenities and services such as education, public transport, and health services is often not equal across all neighbourhoods. Whether or not these services can be easily accessed effects residents wellbeing, and their spending on those services. For example, households living further away from services, where housing is more affordable, may carry higher transport costs.

How easily Australians can access basic services within metropolitan areas can be estimated using the Metropolitan Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (Metro ARIA). This is a geographic index derived from the measurement of road distances people travel to reach different services. The Metro ARIA index provides measures of access along five different service themes: education, financial/postal, health, public transport and shopping services. Level of accessibility refers to metropolitan areas only (Greater Capital City Statistical Areas).


KEY FINDINGS

Household incomes and spending in metropolitan areas tend to be higher than the Australian average. In 2015-16, households in metropolitan zones spent on average $1,538 per week on goods and services and had a disposable income of $1,869. In contrast, households across Australia spent an average of $1,422 per week, from an average disposable income of $1,706.


CHARACTERISTICS OF HOUSEHOLDS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS

Couple families with dependent children were more likely to live in low service accessibility areas (40%), while households in very high accessibility areas were more likely to be lone person households (31%).

In metropolitan areas, almost half (48%) of all households with very high access to services were renters. The proportion of renters tended to decrease with decreasing access to services, with only 20% of households renting in the lowest accessibility areas. Conversely, home owners with a mortgage account for more than half (54%) of limited/low accessibility households, but approximately one quarter (27%) of those in the very high accessible areas.

The types of dwellings people occupy also varied with access to services, with the proportion of households living in separate houses decreasing with increasing access to services. Households with limited/low access to services were more likely to live in separate houses than those in high or very high accessibility areas (95% compared with 79% and 43%). Of the households with very high access to services, 29% lived in a semi-detached or townhouse, and 28% in a unit in a 3 or more story block.

Graph 1 - PROPORTION OF HOUSEHOLDS WITH TENURE TYPE, by Metro ARIA, 2015-16
Graph - Proportion of households with tenure type by Metropolitan Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia category in 2015-16
Source(s): Household Expenditure Survey, 2015-16


COMPOSITION OF SPENDING

The top three categories of household spending across all levels of accessibility were current housing costs (such as rent, interest payments on mortgages, rates, home and content insurance, repairs and maintenance), food and non-alcoholic beverages, and transport costs (such as vehicle purchases and their ongoing running costs, public transport, taxi and ride sharing fares).


Graph 2 - PROPORTION OF HOUSEHOLD SPENDING ON HOUSING, FOOD AND TRANSPORT, by Metro ARIA, 2015-16
Graph - Proportion of household spending on housing, food and transport by Metropolitan Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia category in 2015-16
Source(s): Household Expenditure Survey, 2015-16


Current housing costs

Housing costs were consistently the largest household cost for all Metro ARIA classes. Households living in limited/low, moderate and high accessibility areas spent 18% to 19% of their weekly spending on housing. The majority of households in these areas were buying their home. In comparison, living in very high accessibility areas is more costly, accounting for 23% of household spending. The majority of these households were renting (48%).

Food and non-alcoholic beverages

Households in very high and limited/low accessibility areas tended to spend a similar amount per week on food and non-alcoholic beverages, $262 and $268 respectively. However there were differences in the types of food and beverages these households spent their money on. Households in very high accessibility areas spent less per week on bakery products, meat (excluding fish and seafood), dairy products, condiments, confectionery and non-alcoholic beverages, and more on meals out and fast food ($113) than households in limited/low accessibility areas ($86).

Transport

Higher housing costs are offset by lower expenditure in other areas. Households closest to services dedicated less of their weekly household spending on transport. Those households in very high and high accessibility areas spent 12% to 13% of their total spending on goods and services on transport costs, equating to between $189 and $190 per week. In contrast, households in moderate or limited/low accessibility areas spent the most on overall transport costs, at 15% to 16% of their total spending on goods and services ($223 to $268 per week).

As well as differences in the amount households spent per week on transport costs, there were also differences in the types of transport costs they spent their money on. Households with very high accessibility to services spent twice as much on public transport services than those in other accessibility areas ($12 per week compared to $6 to $7 per week). Those with very high accessibility to services also tended to spend less than all other areas on motor vehicle running costs such as fuels and oils ($33 per week) and registration and insurance ($30 per week). Households in limited/low accessibility areas were the highest spenders on motor vehicle fuel, at an average of $69 per week.


Graph 3 - AVERAGE WEEKLY HOUSEHOLD SPENDING ON SELECTED TRANSPORT CATEGORIES, by Metro ARIA, 2015-16
Graph - Average weekly household spending on selected transport categories by Metropolitan Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia category in 2015-16
Source(s): Household Expenditure Survey, 2015-16