- Home ownership in Australia
Home ownershipis a key cultural icon in Australia. Australians have traditionally aspired to the modest Great Australian Dreamof "owning a detached house on a fenced block of land."Winter, Ian and Wendy Stone. [http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/WP13.pdf Social Polarisation and Housing Careers: Exploring the Interrelationship of Labour and Housing Markets in Australia] . Australian Institute of Family Studies. March 1998.] Home-ownership has been seen as creating a responsible citizenry; according to a former Premier of Victoria, "The home owner feels that he has a stake in the country, and that he has something worth working for, living for, fighting for."Kemeny, Jim. "The Ideology of Home Ownership." Urban Planning in Australia: Critical Readings, ed. J. Brian McLoughlin and Margo Huxley. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire Pty Limited, 1986. p256-7.] The Australian government has encouraged broad-scale home-ownership through tax incentives; as a result, 70% of households own their own homes —the highest proportion of any nation. [Badcock, Blair and Andrew Beer. Home Truths: Property Ownership and Housing Wealth in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2000, p2.] The prevalence of home-ownership has meant that renters and owners are not divided as sharply along income lines as they are elsewhere: 55% of low-income households and 80% of high-income households are home-owners. [Kemeny, Jim. "A Political Sociology of Home Ownership in Australia." The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology 13 (1977): 47-52.] In the past, home-ownership has been a sort of equalizing factor; in postwar Australia, immigrant Australians could often buy homes as quickly as native-born Australians.Davison, Graeme. "The Past & Future of the Australian Suburb." Australian Planner (Dec. 1994): 63-69.] Additionally, Australian suburbs have been more socio-economically mixed than those in Britain or America. In Melbourne, for instance, one early observer noted that "a poor house stands side by side with a good house."
Home-ownership in modern Australia, however, is becoming more exclusive. The ratio of Australians' average income to the price of the average home was at an all-time low in the late 1990s. [Badcock, Blair and Andrew Beer. Home Truths: Property Ownership and Housing Wealth in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2000, p128.] Young people are buying homes at the lowest rates ever, and changes in work patterns are reducing many households' ability to retain their homes. [Badcock, Blair and Andrew Beer. Home Truths: Property Ownership and Housing Wealth in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2000, p150-152.] Simultaneously, homes that are being constructed are increasing in size and holding fewer people on average than in the past. [Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia Social Trends 1994: Housing – [http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/ABS@.NSF/2f762f95845417aeca25706c00834efa/f8f2b5b6a0447a77ca2570ec00787a54!OpenDocument Housing Stock: Housing the Population] . 18 Nov. 2002.] The fraction of houses with four or more bedrooms has increased from 15 percent in 1971 to greater than 30 percent in 2001. [Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia Social Trends: Housing – [http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/04AC65400B2D01B5CA2570EC0000EAE1?opendocument] . 22 Apr. 2004.]
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