Monday, June 28, 2004

Male poverty

The Saturday Age had the following statistics in its "Numbercrunch" column:

Proportion of separated fathers in Australia who had a taxable income of less than $15,000: 40 per cent; less than $32,000: 68 per cent.

These are remarkable figures. They show that divorce is heavily concentrated among the poorest of men, who are earning well below the average wage of $49,000. More than two thirds of divorces in Australia are suffered by men who aren't earning a "living wage" sufficient to maintain a family.

In some ways, this should be of some comfort to those men who have stubbornly kept to their "provider instinct" and who are toiling away to earn a decent wage. Such men are much less vulnerable to divorce than those who lack a good job.

The statistics also show one way to dramatically lower the rate of family breakdown. If there were a focus on encouraging low-earning men into a higher income bracket, then it's reasonably likely that the rate of separation and divorce would fall.

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