Changes in household spending over 40 years

The three-year Household Economic Survey (HES) released by Statistics NZ shows incomes increased a bit more than expenditure.

. . . Results from the latest three-yearly Household Economic Survey (HES) show that average weekly household expenditure  increased 9.1 percent, to $1,111, between 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2013. 

Over this three-year period, there was an 11.5 percent rise in average annual household income, up from $76,733 to reach $85,588 in 2013.

“Both income and spending have risen over the last three years, and Kiwi households continue to spend most on food, and housing and household utilities,” standard of living acting manager Ian McGregor said.

The results released today show that average weekly household expenditure on:

  • transport rose – from $131 to $158, with higher spending on petrol 
  • housing and household utilities rose – from $252 to $273, including an increase in spending on rates 
  • food rose – from $178 to $193, including more spending on fruit and vegetables.

This is the 40th year of the HES. Collection began in 1973, and since then the HES has been measuring how the spending habits of New Zealanders have shifted.

Stats NZ has analysed changes in spending between 1973 and 2013.

On average, Kiwi households spend over twice as much of their total expenditure on rent now, compared with 40 years ago, according to the latest Household Economic Survey (HES).
In 1974, on average, 3.3 percent of a household’s total expenditure was spent on rent, compared with 8.6 percent in 2013.

Back then, on average we spent over three times as much of our total expenditure on clothing and footwear as we do today, according to HES.
Our households spent an average 9 percent of their total expenditure on clothing and footwear in 1974, compared with 2.8 percent in 2013, according to the latest results.

Can we credit the removal of tariffs for this?

And 40 years ago, our households spent, on average, almost a third more of their total expenditure on fruit and vegetables, and over twice as much on meat, fish, and poultry compared with today.
Kiwi households are spending almost the same proportion of our total expenditure on food now (17.3 percent) as 40 years ago (17.6 percent), according to HES results. However, on average, 2.9 percent of a household’s total spending was on fruit and vegetables in 1974, compared with 2 percent in 2013. Additionally, 5.5 percent of a household’s total spending was on meat, fish, and poultry in 1974, compared with 2.5 percent in 2013.

Spending less on food now? That’s contrary to the perception .

Food costs more but it takes less of our total income to buy it .

We’ve also got a much greater variety of food available now than there was in the 1970s.

I don’t remember eating pizza until 1975 – and then it was scone dough topped with tinned spaghetti and grated cheese. Yuk!

Households spent over twice as much of their total expenditure on cigarettes and tobacco 40 years ago as we do today, according to 2013 HES results. The proportion we spend on alcohol has also decreased, by a fifth since the 1970s.
In 1974, on average, our Kiwi households were spending 1.6 percent of total expenditure on cigarettes and tobacco, compared with 0.7 percent in 2013. Similarly, we see a fall from spending 2.4 percent of total expenditure on alcohol in 1974, compared with 1.9 percent in 2013.

This is in spite of increased taxes. I suspect fewer people are smoking but are we drinking less or is alcohol less expensive now?

Whatever the answer to that question, someone’s still smoking all my tobacco and drinking most of my alcohol.

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