Copyright
Australia. Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Stati.

Inquiry into the cost of living in Australia, 1910-11. By G. H. Knibbs...commonwealth statistician.. online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryAustralia. Commonwealth Bureau of Census and StatiInquiry into the cost of living in Australia, 1910-11. By G. H. Knibbs...commonwealth statistician.. → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


HD

70G3
A5



DOCUMENTS
DEPT.



IRLF



SB Mb Sflfl



CD
O















GIFT OF




DOCUMENTS
DEPT.






COMMONWEALTH

BUREAU OF CENSUS AND STATISTICS
MELBOURNE.



INQUIRY



INTO



THE COST OF LIVING

IN AUSTRALIA,

1910-11.



BY



G. H. KNIBBS, CMC.,

FELLOW OF THE ROYAL STATISTICAL SOCIETY, ETC.
COMMONWEALTH STATISTICIAN.

PUBLISHED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF

THE HONOURABLE KING O'MALLEY, M.P.,

MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS.




By authority : McCarron, Bird & Co.. Printers, 479 Collins Street, Melbourne.



CC.8., No. 138.]



COMMONWEALTH

BUREAU OF CENSUS AND STATISTICS
MELBOURNE.



INQUIRY



INTO



THE COST OF LIVING

IN AUSTRALIA,



<f

1910-



BY



G. H. KNIBBS, C.M.G.,

FELLOW OF THE ROYAL STATISTICAL SOCIETY, ETC.,
COMMONWEALTH STATISTICIAN

PUBLISHED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF

THE HONOURABLE KING O'MALLEY, M.P.,

MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS.



DECEMBER, 1911.




By authority : McCarron, Bird & Co., Printers, 479 Collins Street, Melbourne.



EC. 8., No. 138. j



'?;










. r

SYNOPSIS.






i. Introduction

1. Nature of Inquiry

2. Distribution of Budget Books

2. The Householder's Budget

1. Family Conditions 4

2. Weekly Statements ... 5

3. Tabulation and Classification ... 6

(i.) Geographical Distribution... 6
(ii.) Size and Structure of

Families 7

(iii.) Incomes 7

3. Family Conditions

1. General ... 7

2. Geographical Distribution ... ... 7

3. Structure of Families 8

(i.) General Membership 8

(ii.) Average Number of Members

in Sex and Age Groups ... 9

(iii.) Condition as to Children ... 9
(iv.) Dependents, Boarders, and

Servants 10

4. Occupations of Heads of Families... 10



4. Incomes

1. Sources of Incomes

2. Average Incomes



5. Expenditure

1. Relation to Income

2. General Analysis of Expenditure ...

3. Comparison with Other Countries

4. Housing Accommodation

5. Expenditure on Food

(i.) Average Weekly Expenditure

per Family

(iL) Average Weekly Expenditure

per Head

(iii.) Average Weekly Expenditure
per Head according to Sex
and Age Groups

6. Expenditure on Clothing

7. Expenditure on Other Items

8. Conclusion



INQUIRY INTO THE COST OF LIVING IN AUSTRALIA,



i. Introduction.



1. Nature of Inquiry. In view of the desirability of obtaining reliable and compre-
hensive information in regard to the cost of living in Australia, a special inquiry was
undertaken by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, covering the period
from the 1st July, 1910, to the 30th June, 1911. The requisite data upon which the
results of this inquiry are based were obtained by distributing among householders
throughout the Commonwealth, copies of a small account book in which provision was
made for entering, for each week of the period referred to, particulars of income and
expenditure under certain specified headings.

After a careful examination of the methods adopted and procedure followed in
similar inquiries in other countries, and so soon as the necessary books and instructions
had been drafted and printed, notices were inserted in the daily press throughout the
Commonwealth directing attention to the projected inquiry, its scope and purpose ; com-
munications were also addressed to the Trades and Labour Councils in the several States,
seeking their co-operation and assistance in the distribution of the weekly account books.
In consequence of the press notices a large number of requests was received for books to
be forwarded, while several of the Trades and Labour Councils expressed their willing-
ness to distribute the books among their members.

2. Distribution of Budget Books. The distribution of the books was effected in
June, 1910, the total number despatched from the Bureau being approximately 1500 ;
of that number only 222 were returned after the end of June, 1911, filled in either in
part or in whole for the period of 52 weeks under review. It was found necessary to
reject 10 books as unsuitable for various reasons, such as incompleteness or obvious
inaccuracy, so that the contents of 212 books were available as a basis for the compilation
of the information furnished herein. Nearly all these appear to have been kept with
considerable care, and the thanks of the Bureau are due to those who have taken so much
trouble to assist in the investigation.

It is a matter for regret that so small a proportion (about 14 per cent.) of the books
distributed was returned, though it must be admitted that the labour entailed in keep-
ing the desired records for the whole period is somewhat heavy. In future investigations
of this kind it is probable that the period dealt with will be considerably curtailed with a
view to increasing the number of budgets available for analysis.

It may be observed that the distribution of the books was not in any way restricted,
either in regard to the nature of the occupation of the head of the family or to income
received. It was hoped that the number and nature of the returns would be such as would
enable the results to be presented both for various classes of occupations and for different
ranges of income. As will be seen later, however, owing to the small number of budgets
available, it was considered desirable to present the results without any classification of
occupations, and with only a very limited classification as to amount of income. Inas-
much as the families for which budgets were obtained were distributed over the six States,
and the proportion in each State corresponds fairly closely to its population and importance



THE HOUSEHOLDER'S BUDGET.



in an ij)d\i$ttiai ,%etise, and cwing to the fact that the families are not restricted with
reference to any particular industry, it is believed that the results of the inquiry are
fairly representative of the conditions existing among the majority of the community.
While individual budgets may not be absolutely accurate, it can safely be assumed that
averages based on any considerable number of statements represent the true facts with
substantial accuracy. In any instances where the averages are based upon a small
number of families they should of course be accepted with due caution, for though the
family statements may be accurate, the averages may not include a sufficiently large
number to fairly represent the class to which they refer.

In this connection it should be observed that the value of any inquiry as to cost of
living based upon the voluntary keeping of budgets by householders is to some extent
limited by the fact that such budgets are more likely to be kept by the frugal and thrifty
than the liberal and generous. The consequence is that the results deduced from these
budgets other things being equal tend to be on the low, rather than the high, side.



$ 2. The Householder's Budget.



1. Family Conditions. The weekly account books issued to householders contained
in all 56 pages, 4 in. by 6^ in. in size, bound in flexible board covers. On the inside of
the front cover attention was drawn to the facts (a) that the book was the property of,
and when complete should be returned to, the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and
Statistics; (b) that the information furnished would be treated as strictly confidential;
and (c) that the name of the person furnishing the budget need not be specified in the
book where any objection was felt to so doing. The first page of the book was devoted
to the purpose of ascertaining particulars of locality and of family conditions, and was in
the following form :

WEEKLY STATEMENTS

OF

INCOME AND EXPENDITURE,

1910 - 11
(Examples enclosed herewith.)



State

Town or nearest Post Town

Number and Ages of Children living at home :



Number and Ayes of Children not living at home who are a charge on the
family :



*Occupation of Husband

Occupations (if any) of Wife

Occupations (if any) of Children



C.4852.



* State occupation very fully, as " Carpenter, Jam Factory ;" "Labourer,
Sawmill;" "Engine-driver, Gas Works," &c.



THE HOUSEHOLDER'S BUDGET. 5

The object of the first two lines as to locality was to permit of a classification of the
results according to geographical distribution ; this has only been carried out according
to distribution in the several States. The information as to number and ages of children
was required for classification purposes as to size and structure of family, while that
relating to occupation was intended for the purpose of analysing the variation in the
relative income and expenditure of persons engaged in different occupations and
employed in different groups of allied industries. Owing to the paucity in the number
of budgets returned, it was not, however, found possible to carry into effect the latter
intention, while as regards size and structure of family the only classification made
was that relating to families having over four members and those having four or less.

2. Weekly Statements. The remaining pages of the book were provided for the
householder to fill in week by week particulars of the weekly income and expenditure of
his or her family. Each page was in the following form :



WEEK ENDING ...



INCOME.



From Earnings of Husband
Earnings of Wife ...
,, Earnings of Children
,, Other Receipts

TOTAL



EXPENDITURE.

Rent* or

Instalments for House

Food Bread

Meat

Vegetables and Fruit

Milk

Butter, Cheese, &c.

Sugar ...

Tea, Coffee, &c. ...

Other Food

Other Groceries not Food
Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Alcoholic Beverages
Tobacco, Cigars, Cigarettes
Clothing, Drapery, Boots, <fec.
Fuel and Light

Fares Railway, Tram, 'Bus, &c.
Insurance Fh-e, Life, &c.



Contributions to Benefit Societies



&c.



Education Fees, School Materials, &c.

Medical Attendance and Medicine...

Rates and Taxes

Sport and Amusements ...

Other Expenditure



TOTAL



* Or Interest on Mortgage.



Each book despatched was accompanied by a copy of the following documents:



(i.) Addressed Envelope. A post-free addressed envelope was transmitted for the
return of the book when completed.

(ii.) Specimens. Specimens of the first page of the book (see p. 4 hereinbefore),
and of a weekly return of income and expenditure, each filled in with a
supposititious example, were included for the guidance of the householder.

(iii.) Instruction*. Printed instructions explaining briefly the object and scope of
the inquiry and the manner in which the returns were to be filled in, were
sent in the following form :



THE HOUSEHOLDER'S BUDGET.



INSTRUCTIONS.

1. The object of the whole inquiry is to obtain important sociological
statistics, viz., some indication of the cost and standard of living in the
various Australian States.

2. It is desired that the record should extend from 1st July, 1910, to
30th June, 1911, inclusive, so as to obtain fair averages as well as changes
in the cost of living in the different months of the year.

3. The book supplied is so drafted as to suit all grades of income, and
it is desired to receive records from persons haying widely different incomes.
The income shewn must be that actually received by the head of the house-
hold, and must, therefore, include income earned by any other members
of the household.

4. It is necessary that the record should be a correct statement of the
true total income and expenditure of each week of the period, and that the
grouping under each item in the book supplied should also be correct. For
this reason the book should be made up week by week.

5. The expenditure shewn should be inclusive of that for dependents
living away from home.

6. Where circumstances prevent the book from being completed for
the whole period, it should, nevertheless, be returned to this Bureau.

7. The examples given will shew the method to be followed.

8. It may be pointed out that in a statistical office all matter received
is confidential ; all officers have to make a declaration of secrecy, and
individual returns will under no circumstances be disclosed. Nevertheless,
if in view of the character of this inquiry any objection be felt to giving
the name, no mention of it need be made on the book.

9. If desired, a report as to the results will be sent on application to
any person assisting in the furtherance of this inquiry.

G. H. KNIBBS,

Commonwealth Statistician.

Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics,
Melbourne, 1910.

In addition to the directions contained in the above document, instructions as to
filling in the returns were published in the daily press, and any person who desired to be
advised on any doubtful point had only to write to the Bureau, when he would be fur-
nished with an immediate reply.

3. Tabulation and Classification. In order to facilitate the analysis and classifica-
tion of the householders' budgets, the contents of each book were transferred to a
tabulation sheet, the various details summarised, and a weekly average for each item
computed. The next question considered was that of classifying the results in relation
to the following matters: (i.) Geographical distribution, (ii.) size and structure of
family, (iii.) income, and (iv.) occupations of wage earners. In regard to the last of
these matters, it was found that the number of returns was insufficient to enable any
classification to be made.

(i.) Geographical Distribution. The following table shews the distribution of
families, from which budgets were received, according to States. It was considered
that the small number of budgets available for each State, except New South Wales
and Victoria, did not justify the presentation of separate results. In the later tables the
figures have, therefore, generally been grouped together for the whole Commonwealth.
It was hoped, with a sufficient number of returns, to differentiate as to local distribu-
tion with greater particularity, as for example in regard to incomes and expenditure of
families living in (a) metropolitan towns, (6) country towns, (c) mining districts, and
(d) rural districts.

The distribution of the families in the several States is as follows :

COST, OF LIVING, 1910-1 1. DISTRIBUTION OF FAMILIES IN SEVERAL STATES.



Particulars.


N.S.W.


Victoria.


Qsland. S.A.


W.A.

18


Tas.


Cwlth.


Number of families ...


64


81


19 i "


12


212



FAMILY CONDITIONS. 7

(ii.) Size and Structure of Families. It was found that the families for which
budgets were received were divided roughly into two equal groups in regard to size of
family, 107 families having over four members, and 105 four and under. It was there-
fore decided to adopt these groups as the basis for classification. As regards structure
of family, it was originally intended to tabulate special results for normal families of
different sizes: i.e., for families having normal members consisting of father, mother,
and children within specified age groups ; owing to the small number of returns received
it was, however, found impracticable to carry out this scheme. The classification
adopted relates to actual size of families, the structure of the family (i.e., whether com-
posed of father, mother, children, dependents, or relatives), being necessarily disregarded.

(iii.) Income. The classification as to incomes was adopted after a careful consider-
ation of the facts. In order to make a distinction between the large class of wage-
earners who earn under 3 a week, and those persons who earn more than that amount,
it was at first intended to adopt a classification according to incomes of over about 150,
and those amounting to about 150 and under ; it was found, however, that taking 150
as the limit, the former class embraced 168 families, and the latter only 44. Further,
on an examination of the books it appaared that a large number of families depends for
their support on means other than the actual wages earned by the head of the household,
the other main sources of income being earnings of children, boarders, and interest -on
investments. It was therefore considered desirable to somewhat increase the limit, and
it was found that a fairly even distribution was obtained by making the division at 200,
there being 113 families whose incomes were over that amount and 99 under. The
following statement shews the number of families in each division of the scheme of
classification adopted :

COST OF LIVING, 1910-11. NUMBER OF FAMILIES, CLASSIFICATION BY INCOMES

AND SIZE OF FAMILIES.



Particulars.


Number of Families having


Incomes over 200 per annum.


Incomes of 200 and under p. annum.


Over 4 Members.


4 Members or under.


Over 4 Members.


4 Members or under.


Number of families


58


41


49


64



3. Family Conditions.



1. General. In order to permit of any adequate analysis or criticism of the figures
relating to income and expenditure presented in this report, it appears desirable that the
returns as to family conditions should be first investigated. It is proposed to deal with
these matters from the following standpoints, viz. : (a) Geographical distribution of
families ; (6) Structure and size of families ; and (c) Occupations of heads of .families.

2. Geographical Distribution. Though the budgets received were not sufficiently
numerous to permit of any classification of incomes according to families living in the
metropolitan towns and in other parts of the several States, the urban and rural distri-
bution of the families to which the returns refer is of importance.



8



FAMILY CONDITIONS.



For the purpose of classification in the following table, the suburbs have been
included with the metropolitan towns, and in Western Australia, Fremantle has also
been included with Perth. The families in each State are classified according to income
and size of family :



COST OF LIVING, 1910-11. CLASSIFICATION OF FAMILIES RESIDING IN METRO-
POLITAN TOWNS AND IN OTHER PARTS OF EACH STATE.







Number of Families residing in




8 -


















Total.


^


Families having


Number of


N.S.W.


Vic.


Qld.


S.A.


W.A.


Tas.


H S2






||


3


II


1


||


1


11


1




53


11




II


1


16

H o






S2





S


6


S 2


O














O









Over 200


Over 4


15


2


16


5


5


1


4


3


3


1


1


2


44


14


58




4 and under


11


3


13


2


1


1


3


1


2


1


2


1


32


9 41


200 and under ...


Over 4


6


6


13


6


4


2


1


3


3


2


1


2


28


21


49




4 and under


9


12


15


11


3


2


2


1


3


3


2


1


34


30 64


Total


41


23


57


24


13


6


10


8


11


7


6


6


138


i
74 212



It may be seen that the majority of the returns received were from families residing
in metropolitan towns, 138, or 65.1 per cent., being from such towns and 74, or 34.9 per
cent., from other districts.

3. Structure of Families, The following tables have been compiled in order to
bring together the more important returns obtained as to membership of families, classified
according to income and size of family.

(i.) Getieral Membership. The total number of members of the families for which
returns were received was 999, including all persons who generally participated perman-
ently in the family expenditure, but excluding temporary guests or visitors. Some of
the families were without the husband, .who was either dead or separated from his
family, and similarly in the case of the wife. The following table shews the component
members of the families classified according to income and size of family :



COST OF LIVING, 1910-11. MEMBERSHIP OF FAMILIES COMPRISED IN RETURNS.



Families having


Number of


^j


03
,'


i


1


J

a
o>
<O


U3



'w


03

1


^1


Incomes of


Members.


el


cc


'$.


2


a




8


o 2
& S






fc


a




o


|


ffl


co




Over 200 ...


Over 4


No.

58


No.

57


No.
56


No.

237


No.
5


No.
10


No.

25


No.
390




4 and under...


41


38


39


47


5


5


8


142


200 and under


Over 4


49


46


48


173


2


6


2


277




4 and under. . .


64


61


62


65


...




2


190


Total


212


202


205


522


12


21


37


999



From the above table it may be seen that 10 of the families (4.7 per cent.) were
without a husband, and that 7 (3.3 per cent.) were without a wife. Over 66 per cent, of
the families keeping servants were restricted to the class having incomes of over 200



FAMILY CONDITIONS.



and comprising over 4 members. Of 202 husbands, 189 were at work during the whole
or the greater part of the period under review, while the remaining 13 were of indepen-
dent means or were invalids.

(ii.) Average Number of Members in Sex and Age Groups. The table in the
preceding paragraph shews the gross number of members of the families under con-
sideration, taking no account of the number of persons which were a charge upon the
expenditure during the whole period under review. In the next table this is taken into
consideration, and the length of time for which any person (stated to have been either
temporarily absent from his home or living temporarily at the home) was a charge upon
the family expenditure has been computed. Thus, for example, if a boarder or a servant
was stated to have resided with the family for only 9 months of the period under review,
such a person is taken into account as having been a charge upon the expenditure for
three-quarters of the year only, and is therefore assigned the value of 0.75. For the
purpose of computing in a later part of this report the average expenditure, weighted
according to sex and age, the number of members has been tabulated in the several age
and sex groups indicated.

COST OF LIVING, 1910-11. AVERAGE NUMBER OF PERSONS WHO WERE A CHARGE
ON EXPENDITURE DURING WHOLE PERIOD.







o*


Males.


Females.


Children.




Families
having
Incomes of


Number of
Members.


Numbe
Faniili








Total.


Over 17.


13-16.


Over 17.


13-16.


10-12.


6-9.


2-5.


Under
2.


Over 200


Over 4


58


98.2


18.4


120.4


21.5


39.0


34.0


36.0


17.9


385.4




4 and under


41


51.4


2.0


58.1


1.0


3.0


7.0


10.0


8.2


140.7


200 and under


Over 4


49


58.3


6.0


70.5


5.4


20.0


32.0


59.0


24.7


275.9




4 and under


64


64.8


3.5


67.2


4.5


3.0


4.0


23.0


20.1


190.1


Total


212


272.7


29.9


316.2


32.4


65.0


77.0


128.0


70.9


992.1





(iii.) Condition as to Children. Out of the 212 families investigated 180 included
children. The subjoined table shews the average number of children in each group,
together with the number of children earning wages and those not earning wages (i.e.,
either at home or at school or college) classified in age groups.

COST OF LIVING, 1910-11. CONDITION OF FAMILIES AS TO CHILDREN.







.8-2
II




.iL


Children
at Work.


Children at Home or at School.






39




tCr< >>






Families having
Incomes of


Number of
Members.


s

6


I!




Avera
Childrei
Farnil


Over

17.


13-16


Over

17.


13-16


10-12


6-9


2-5


"c


Over 200


Over 4


56


237


4.23


47


8


20


32


39


34


36


21




4 or under


30


47


1.56


8




8


3


3


7


10


10


200 and under ...


Over 4


49


173


3.53


20


2


3


10


20


32


59


27




4 or under ...


45


65


1.44


' 2


1


2


7


3


4


23


21


Total


180


522


2.90


77


11


33


52


65


77


128


79



It may be seen from the above table that a somewhat unduly large number of the
children in the families investigated were comprised in the lower age-groups, those of the
age of 5 years and under numbering 207, or nearly 40 per cent, of the whole number.
This somewhat high percentage indicates that a considerable number of the persons
rendering returns had. not been married for a long period; and, indeed, it is only natural
to assume that such persons are the more likely to be interested in an inquiry of this



10



FAMILY CONDITIONS.



nature. As might be expected, the great majority of children in the higher age-groups
who were not wage-earners is confined to the class having the larger incomes. The total
number of children at work was 88, or 16.8 per cent., and of those at home or at school
was 434, or 83.2 per cent., on the total number of children.

(iv.) Dependents, Boarders, and Servants. The following table shews the number


1 3

Online LibraryAustralia. Commonwealth Bureau of Census and StatiInquiry into the cost of living in Australia, 1910-11. By G. H. Knibbs...commonwealth statistician.. → online text (page 1 of 3)