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Income Inequality across Australian Regions during the Mining Boom: 2001–11

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As mining expands throughout the world, a growing body of literature is focusing on the relationship between mining and well-being in locations where resource extraction occurs. Although many topics such as employment and migration have been researched, the impacts of mining on income inequality have received less attention from scholars. Income inequality is a highly debated topic and the Gini coefficient (GC) one of the most popular indicators used to measure and discuss it. In this paper we estimate GCs for all sub-State regions of Australia and analyse their changes during the ‘mining boom decade’ (2001–11) across mining and non-mining regions. Our results show that, on average, income inequality increased by around 4.8 per cent in mining regions, compared to 8.7 per cent in the average non-mining region. However, the results also show important variation in changes of GC across mining regions, suggesting that the industry is likely to affect the distribution of local incomes in different ways. The method we propose to estimate GCs for regional areas and the results obtained across mining and non-mining regions provide important insights for future research and for regional policy makers, especially those concerned with the socio-economic impacts of industries such as mining across regions.
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Keywords: Australia; Gini coefficient; Income inequality; Pilbara; mining boom; mining regions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: CSIRO Adaptive Social and Economic Systems Program, Black Mountain Laboratories, Australia

Publication date: April 3, 2015

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