Housing, Financial Stress, and Electoral Geography

Housing, Financial Stress, and Electoral Geography: A Analysis of the Spatial Distribution of Housing-Associated Financial Stress in Australia by William Thackway and Bill Randolph in partnership with Digital Finance Analytics

This short report analyses a range of housing-associated financial stress measures as these relate to Federal electoral constituency geography. The data have been provided by Martin North from Digital Finance Analytics (https://www.digitalfinanceanalytics.com/). With reference to the 2019 Federal election, the analysis highlights, in particular, the political party affiliations and electoral marginality of constituencies with high levels housing-associated financial stress.

The overall household financial stress data have been disaggregated by mortgagor or renter status. The incidence of household financial stress as this affects rental property investors is also measured. While the notion of renters and mortgagors facing financial stress is well understood, the focus on investor stress is novel and illustrates, perhaps surprisingly, that individual property investors may also face financial pressure. The pattern of constituencies scoring highly on various housing-associated financial stress and their 2019 party allegiances illustrates how widespread housing-associated financial stress in general has become – areas represented by both main political parties are substantially represented. Moreover, electorally marginal constituencies are strongly represented among high stress seats.

Section 1 sets out the methodology used to generate the constituency level data. Section 2 presents the financial stress data separately for renters, mortgagors, investors and all households, focusing on the 20 most stressed constituencies for each measure. Section 3 maps the data for the capital cities for all households and investors only, while Section 4 visualises the relationship between household stress and political affiliation.

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