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The Development of Government Policies on Poverty and Income Distribution


  • Meredith Edwards
  • Peter Whiteford


This paper discusses trends in poverty in Australia over the last two decades, as indicated by changes in the number and composition of income units with incomes below the Henderson poverty line as well as by trends in the circumstances of the population in receipt of social security payments. This analysis suggests that there have been significant changes in the nature of poverty in Australia, which has increased among those of workforce age. Families with children have been particularly affected by these developments. The paper describes the development of policies designed to achieve the government's pledge that by 1990 no child need live in poverty. Despite the usefulness of the Henderson poverty line in identifying trends in economic vulnerability, the paper identifies a number of practical objections to using this indicator to assess the total effect of government initiatives. The paper concludes with a discussion of a broad approach to poverty alleviation, which would include income support, labour market and community services policies. Copyright 1988 The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

Suggested Citation

  • Meredith Edwards & Peter Whiteford, 1988. "The Development of Government Policies on Poverty and Income Distribution," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 21(3), pages 54-73.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ausecr:v:21:y:1988:i:3:p:54-73

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sue Richardson & Peter Travers, 1987. "The Poverty of Poverty Lines," School of Economics Working Papers 1987-03, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Starke, Peter & Kaasch, Alexandra & van Hooren, Franca, 2011. "Explaining the variety of social policy responses to economic crisis: How parties and welfare state structures interact," TranState Working Papers 154, University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State.

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