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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

Statistics of Income

Statistics of Income.

Let us look next at the figures representing the income, the private income, of Australasians. Statistics of income are very difficult to prepare, and at the very best they can only be accepted as approximating to accuracy. In the United Kingdom the work of calculation is much facilitated by the returns made for assessment to income tax, which cover about one-half the entire income of the country. According to Mulhall, the income per inhabitant of the countries mentioned is as follows:—United Kingdom, £53 14s.; France, £27 16s.; Germany, £23 4a.; Denmark, £32 5s.; Canada, £26; United States, £39; Australia, £40 4s. It will be seen Australia is put first, the United States second, and the United Kingdom third. Coghlan, in his "Seven Colonies," published last year, placed the private income per head in Australasia at £41 14s. In this year's publication of the same work, presumably dissatisfied with the data available, the author has omitted his calculation for all Australasia, and is content to give an estimate for New South Wales alone. This comes out at the high figure of £57 per head, or an aggregate income of sixty-three millions. This, it will be seen, makes a very brave show for New South Wales as compared with any page 31 other country in the world. Indeed it is an admirable item for use on the public platform, and it does not sound at all bad when read from the prospectus of a new loan. But in truth the statistics need a little examination. In the first place New South Wales out of her income, whatever it is, must pay at least five millions yearly for interest, &c, on her public and private indebtedness, so that if her aggregate income be sixty-three millions this needful deduction at once brings it down to fifty-eight millions, which is only about £52 10s. per head. Then comes another consideration. How are we to distinguish between the income which is the result of our own actual production, and the income which is simply the result of the expenditure of other people's money? Clearly the former only is the real income; the latter is just a temporary addition. During the past ten years New South Wales has probably obtained something like seventy millions of new capital, thirty of which, it may be estimated, has been imported, and forty used to pay interest; that is an average of seven millions a year. In 1890, He year for which Mr. Coghlan's estimate of £57 per head was made, the sum did not exceed five millions. A portion of this would be used to pay for railway plant in England, but the bulk of the money was certainly expended in the colony itself, and as a matter of income would count more than once. Probably this expenditure of "other people's money" would account for eight out of the fifty-eight millions, and it might then be said that the New South Wales income per head consisted of £45, the product of her own industries, and £7 10s., the result of the expenditure of new capital. It will be seen that these considerations place a very different light on the question of income. There is a further point, which, though it does not at all lessen the actual earnings, yet makes a material difference as far as toy comparison with the earnings of other countries is concerned. In Great Britain there are 1047 females to 1000 males; in Australia there are only 843 females to every 1000 males, This means that men are 24 per cent. more numerous in proportion to the population than they are in Great Britain, and that this must of necessity tell heavily in favor of Australian figures, and against those of Great Britain in any "per head" calculation of income. Indeed, the relative effectiveness of the Australasian population ought to be remembered in connection with all statistics that can be affected thereby, and it is a point that goes to the credit of these colonies in considering their page 32 indebtedness. With regard to the income for all Australasia, it may be said that it is subject to a yearly payment for interest, &c., of from fifteen to eighteen millions; and further, that during the past ten years it has been buoyed up and inflated by the yearly expenditure, on the average, of something like twenty millions. No one eau form a true idea of the income Australasia unless the whole of the facts here set forth are borne in mind. The subject of production is closely allied to that of income; indeed, production is the basis of true income. In the previous article we gave Coghlan's figures showing the total production from the primary industries to be eighty-six million. If to this we add twenty millions for the manufacturing industry, we get an aggregate production for Australasia of one hundred and six millions for the year 1800. This year we may estimate the total at one hundred and ten millions divided amongst four millions of people, which is equal to £27 10s. per head, a large sum in comparison with the production of other countries, though it must be remembered that the interest charge of equal to £4 per head must ultimately rest on ibis production.