Governments across the world are concerned with the appropriate level and distribution of social spending within the context of slow growth and higher public debt since the Great Recession, and in the light of the projected impact of population ageing over coming decades. In Australia, the recent Commission of Audit report and the subsequent Commonwealth Budget have set out a program of policy change that envisions a significant shift in the distribution of welfare spending.
Professor Peter Whiteford provides an analysis of the distribution of social security and welfare spending in Australia and how it compares with other OECD countries and across time. Different aspects of this distribution are highlighted, including the distribution across income groups, across types of households, as well as the distribution across the life course, and by gender. The distribution of taxation is also compared across these dimensions. The objective of this analysis is to clarify the impact of policy choices and identify alternative approaches to the distribution of spending and taxation.