Australia’s city/country divide is not as wide as you may think

Many people assume Australia’s regions are getting a raw deal compared to the big cities. But beneath the oft-told “tale of two Australias” is a more nuanced story.

New research released today by the Grattan Institute shows that income growth and unemployment rates are not obviously worse in regional areas. Cities and regions both have pockets of disadvantage, as well as areas with healthy income growth and low unemployment.

But shifts in population are driving a wedge between city and regional Australia. Fewer people are living in remote areas. And because of this, the economy is becoming more concentrated in cities and large regional centres.

Income growth in the regions has kept pace with the cities

The gap in incomes between the cities and the regions is actually not getting wider.

Income growth was particularly high over the past decade in the mining areas of Western Australia and Queensland. But this is not just a mining-state phenomenon: average growth in income per person was similar in cities and regions across every state.

Income growth was high in areas close to the centre of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. But suburban parts of these cities did not fare so well – areas in Sydney’s west and Melbourne’s outer ring had some of the lowest income growth in the nation. Read more

John Daly et al. – The Conversation – 3 Aug 2017