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Poverty Traps in the Australian Social Security System


  • Whiteford, P.
  • Bradbury, B.
  • Saunders, P.

    (Socail Welfare Research Centre, University of New South Wales)


The term “poverty traps” refers to circumstances where the income tests in the Australian social security system trap social security recipients into dependence on Government income support. This paper describes the ways in which the income test interacts with the income tax rate scale and Medicare levy to produce high effective marginal tax rates, and provides evidence on the number of persons actually and potentially in the poverty trap. The paper also discusses factors other than income tests that may affect the decisions of social security recipients to engage in part-time work, and canvasses a range of policy options that may alleviate poverty traps for those of working age.

Suggested Citation

  • Whiteford, P. & Bradbury, B. & Saunders, P., 1989. "Poverty Traps in the Australian Social Security System," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-28.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecanpo:v:19:y:1989:i:1:p:1-28

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    Cited by:

    1. Sheila Shaver, 1996. "Universality and Selectivity in Income Support: An Assessment of the Issues," LIS Working papers 145, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    2. Peter Saunders, 1995. "Improving work incentives in a means-tested welfare system: The 1994 Australian social security reforms," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(2), pages 45-70, May.

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