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Each year, dozens of studies are published about the challenges that surround Australian contemporary life. None, however, reveals the nation’s changes as much as the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. Here’s what it reveals about the country’s financial literacy.

By Candice Chung

What is HILDA? Launched in 2001 by the University of Melbourne, the survey follows the same group of Australians over the course of their lives – and it’s now tracking more than 17,500 people in 9500 households, gathering data about their family life, health and economic wellbeing.

What makes HILDA unique is that it provides a running narrative on how Australian life evolves over time. Whereas other national surveys may give a colourful cross-sectional snapshot of the population, HILDA’s long-term nature means it can measure issues such as changes in social attitudes and intergenerational advantages and disadvantages – making it a rich data source for policymakers.

For the first time, in its 18th year, the survey has reported on financial literacy. Five questions were asked about basic financial concepts such as inflation, calculating interest and portfolio diversification. The scores were then broken down by age group, gender and other socioeconomic factors and compared against their respective financial outcomes.