Welfare outcomes of migration of low-income earners from metropolitan to non-metropolitan Australia

Welfare outcomes of migration of low-income earners from metropolitan to non-metropolitan Australia Report

  • Author(s): Marshall, N., Murphy, P., Burnley, I., Hugo, G.
  • Published: 2003
  • Publisher: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute

Abstract: This research aimed to identify the motivations of, and tradeoffs made by, low-income households who choose to relocate from metropolitan cities to rural and regional Australia. Specifically, the project sought to determine the importance of housing considerations vis-à-vis other factors in location choice and whether, in the search for appropriate and affordable housing, the net welfare of movers is affected. The bias towards lower income earners in out-migration flows from Australian cities has been noted for some years by researchers. Particularly in Sydney an association between immigration and out-migration has been noted and commentators have inferred that people are being forced out of the city by high housing prices. To the extent that the net welfare of movers is reduced due to relocation, policy issues related to housing subsidies and provision of human services arise. Whilst some light can be shed on these issues with secondary data from key sources such as Population and Housing Censuses and the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) longitudinal data set on income support recipients, direct questioning of those relocating is required to get accurate information on decision factors and their levels of welfare before and after relocation. This research therefore involved surveying a sample of low-income households who had recently relocated from Sydney and Adelaide to non-metropolitan localities in NSW and South Australia, respectively. The level of out-migration from Sydney is higher than for other Australian cities and Sydney's housing prices are by far the highest. The extent to which people are in fact being forced out by high housing prices is likely to be most sharply manifest there. But the phenomenon of low income out-migration is evident around Australia so the inclusion of one other state in the study will go some way towards determining the extent to which the outflow from Sydney is uniquely influenced by housing affordability. The study design focused on income support recipients (aged, unemployed, disabled, sole parents) since these people are likely to most sharply embody the sorts of considerations just referred to. Operationally this choice makes it efficient to identify a sample of movers since FaCS databases enable direct identification of movers from metropolitan postcodes to selected non-metropolitan localities.

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Marshall, N., Murphy, P., Burnley, I., Hugo, G., 2003, Welfare outcomes of migration of low-income earners from metropolitan to non-metropolitan Australia, Report, viewed 09 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4440.

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