Age-Based Targeting of Unemployment Benefits and Household Financial Stress 

by Gianni La Cava

Recent media speculation about the JobSeeker payment indicates that it could be lifted for recipients aged 55+ in the forthcoming Budget. But what is the evidence that older JobSeeker recipients are more financially vulnerable than their younger counterparts? Does such age-based targeting of the payment make sense?

In a 1-page e61 micro note, I find that younger JobSeeker recipients are much more financially stressed than older recipients based on analysis of household survey data:

  • Younger recipients are 2.5 times more likely to report being financially stressed;
  • Younger recipients are nearly twice as likely to be liquidity constrained or `hand-to-mouth’.

Older recipients are less financially stressed because they have fewer financial commitments, such as debt repayments, and have had more time to accumulate financial assets, such as cash and bank deposits.

As outlined in recent e61 research, alongside changes to the JobSeeker payment, there may be merit in considering other policies to support displaced older workers such as allowing early access to superannuation or providing income-contingent loans.