Debt as a source of financial stress in Australian households
This paper examines the role of demographic, socioeconomic and debt portfolio characteristics as contributors to financial stress in Australian households. The data is drawn from the most-recent Household Expenditure Survey Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURF) and relate to 3,268 probability-weighted households. Financial stress is defined, amongst other things, in terms of financial reasons for being unable to have a holiday, have meals with family and friends, and engage in hobbies and other leisure activities and overall financial management. Characteristics examined included family structure and composition, source and level of household income, age, sex and marital status, ethic background, housing value, debt repayments and credit card usage. Binary logit models are used to identify the source and magnitude of factors associated with financial stress. The evidence provided suggests that financial stress is higher in families with more children or other dependents and from ethnic minorities, especially those more reliant on government pensions and benefits, and negatively related to disposable income and housing value. There is little evidence to suggest that Australia’s historically high levels of household debt are currently the cause of significant amounts of financial stress in these households.
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