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Equity Issues in the 'New Prosperity' of the 1990s: the case of Sydney

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Equity issues associated with Sydney's engagement with prosperity, especially over the last decade, are examined. Sydney is positioned within the historic contexts of major national economic change and of globalisation, noting especially the rise in importance of the financial, property and business services sectors. These sectors are concentred in inner Sydney and have helped position Sydney as Australia's leading global city, thereby generating jobs and growth in incomes. At the same time, however, there have been major shifts in patterns of income distribution across the Sydney metropolitan area and between Sydney and other parts of Australia. In particular, we note the 'revitalisation' of Sydney's inner-urban areas and their association with new forms of Central Business District (CBD) workforce growth and a significant realignment of journey-to-work patterns. Using Australian Taxation Office income data, the dynamics and some of the equity outcomes of 1990s prosperity within the Sydney metropolitan area are examined, paying particular attention to the impact of change in and around the Sydney CBD and the City of Sydney local government area. We find that there has been a complex shift in the nature of inequality across the Sydney metropolitan area, including a widening in incomes in some instances and a major geographic shift in Sydney's income-divide axis. The paper concludes by arguing that ongoing economic prosperity in Sydney will depend on the extent to which social cleavage can be avoided by a more equitable sharing of the benefits of prosperity.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-11-01

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