# Aust census: incomes: JWs falling further behind?

by shepherdless 24 Replies latest watchtower scandals

• ##### shepherdless

It has been well documented in the past that, as a group, incomes for JWs are lower than virtually any other religion, in Australia. Rather than repeat that exercise here, I set out some detail about the gap between JWs and ordinary Australians.

1. JWs typically earn much less

Here is a bar chart of income brackets, comparing JW incomes against other Australians. Note that the blue bars are longer than the gold bars at the bottom, and shorter at the top.

From the data behind that chart, I calculated median incomes as follows:

• 2016 Aust median income: A\$577
• 2016 JW median income: A\$420

In other words, the typical JW income is 3/4 of the income of a typical Australian.

2. Comparing 2011 Census

Doing the same exercise for the 2011 census gives:

• 2011 Aust median income: A\$662
• 2011 JW median income: A\$411

These figures would indicate that over the 5 year period:

• Aust median income increased 14.7%
• JW median income increased only 2.2% (but see below)

3. How is the disparity occurring?

The above numbers give the appearance that JWs are not only well behind other Australians, but that the gap is widening dramatically. However, first impressions can be deceiving. To do a real comparison, you have to strip out the following effects:

• JWs are now typically significantly older than the typical Australian;
• As I explained on an earlier thread, that age difference widened significantly between the 2011 census and the 2016 census; and
• For JWs over the age of 20, women dramatically outnumber men (relevant because women typically have lower incomes).

One may also wonder, given Aust's high immigration rates, whether immigration is a factor. I can answer that it does not appear to be a significant factor. I will leave the explanation for a later date.

4 Allowing for the age and sex factors

To remove the above age and sex factors, I downloaded the income data again, but for males only, in separate 5 year cohorts. I then calculated individual median incomes for each cohort. After that, I repeated the exercise, but first filtered the data for those who reported themselves as JWs.

It was time consuming and mind-numbing. don't try it yourself; unless you have a lot of Panadol on hand.

I then used the resultant data to produce the following chart:

The graph speaks for itself. Young male JWs actually earn slightly more. I suspect that is because they skip tertiary education and get a head start in the workforce. Not long after that, they fall behind their "worldly" colleagues. It could be because they are burnt out, or lack workplace social skills, but I suspect it is more because they lack the qualifications to achieve in the workforce, beyond the menial jobs.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that male JW's typically earn significantly less compared to other Australians. Combining all males between ages 20 and 69, I calculated JW males typically earnt 17% less, which, over 49 years (20 to 69) amounts to A\$390,000.

One possibility that occurred to me was that the chart could be an indication that perhaps younger male JW's were getting less dragged down by the religion. To test this, I repeated the whole exercise for the 2011 census results. The 2011 data shows the same story, as set out in the combined chart below.

One good thing I noticed comparing 2011 data and 2016 data, is that the number of male JW's aged between 20 and 69 decreased from 26,482 to 25,055. That is a 5.4% decrease, compared to a 3.6% decrease for JWs overall, in the same period.

Also, I calculated that back in 2011, male JW's ages between 20 and 69 typically earnt 23% less compared to other Australians. So it seems that 2016 was an improvement. Perhaps that is an indication that they are becoming more "worldly".

Conclusion:

1. 2016 census data shows that JWs earn significantly less than other Australians. This is true, even when allowing for age and sex factors.
2. At face value, comparing 2011 to 2016 census data suggests that the income discrepancy is getting worse. When removing distorting factors (ie that JWs are ageing and predominantly female), the income discrepancy is not increasing, and is perhaps decreasing.

Notes:

1. I do my own calculations of "median income". I have used the same method each time, so if I am out slighly in one, it should be out by the same amount in all.
2. I only deal with nominal incomes; no adjustment for CPI (inflation).
3. I am an amateur. I don't analyse stats in my "day job".

• ##### Vidiot

This direct consequence of the Org's demonization of "higher education" is, IMO, one of the best examples of the WTS's theological fatwas coming back and biting it on the ass.

Right up there with the two-witness/internalization of the child abuse problem.

• ##### steve2

According to the census figures you provide, your percentage calculations for the median Australian income appear to have been wrongly calculated.

The Australian median income dropped from \$662 in 2011 to \$577 in 2016, a decrease of 13%, and the JW median income increased over that period from \$411 to \$420.

• 2016 Aust median income: A\$577
• 2011 Aust median income: A\$662
• 2016 JW median income: A\$420
• 2011 JW median income: A\$411
• ##### shepherdless

Yes, Steve, when I came to write up a summary, I wrote 2 figures in the wrong spot.

• 2016 Aust median income: A\$662
• 2011 Aust median income: A\$577
• 2016 JW median income: \$A420
• 2011 JW median income: \$A411

I should add that I did find a chart in a publication that indicated nominal wages increased by 2.8% p.a. over that 5 year period. 1.028^5 = 1.148, ie a 14.8% increase, which is very close to the 14.7% I calculated.

Hopefully, I didn't make any more mistakes.

• ##### Are you serious

It would interesting to see what the income disparity is like in the USA.

• ##### Simon

Great research, analysis and presentation - fascinating reading, thanks for posting it!

They are probably impacted in two ways:

For born-in's, they are dissuaded from further education and even focusing on any career. Pioneering and other worthless endeavours have a huge impact on earnings over time and the lack of qualifications and work history mean most people will be playing catch-up their entire lives.

For converts, they likely attract 'low achievers' who have problems in life and who find the message of "god will make it all better and give you that rich dude's house" appealing. People who are successful are unlikely to be interested - those who are so successful they are bored of their money are more likely to fall for more "exciting" cults like Scientology or personal-preachers.

• ##### shepherdless

Thanks Simon. I agree with your likely explanations.

are you serious: It would be interesting to see what the income disparity is like in the USA.

Yes, it would be very interesting to know. The Pew research from 2014 has only a little data, and is based on a survey, but it showed (from memory) that JWs in USA also earnt less, were getting older, and (at face value) the gap between JWs and others was widening. When I get a bit of free time, I will set out the numbers. I think Darkspilver did a relevant thread on this as well, about 6 to 12 months ago.

• ##### Ruby456

hi sheperdess

I'm interested in your stats for these groups below as I am also trying to work out the demographics for jws but here in the UK. And I'd like to compare the two. Plus in Australia do jws live in less affluent areas and if they do would this influence your figures? also in jw families is it usually that if one parent works full-time the other does not work or works part-time and would this also influence your figures? in the UK more jws are working full time while most mothers work part-time.

• JWs are now typically significantly older than the typical Australian;
• As I explained on an earlier thread, that age difference widened significantly between the 2011 census and the 2016 census; and
• For JWs over the age of 20, women dramatically outnumber men (relevant because women typically have lower incomes).
• ##### shepherdless
Ruby: in Australia do jws live in less affluent areas and if they do would this influence your figures?

I haven't checked, but I am sure JWs typically live in less affluent areas. However, I did check geographical data in the past, and JWs are spread fairly evenly across urban and rural Australia, but not uniformly. The distribution amongst the States suggests there are more JWs in States that are cheaper to live in. Qld has the highest concentration of JWs, and Vic has the lowest for a State (little ACT has an even lower rate, less than half the national average). Overall, I think residential address would be a result of income, not a cause of an income level, so I think it is a minor factor, if a factor at all.

also in jw families is it usually that if one parent works full-time the other does not work or works part-time and would this also influence your figures? in the UK more jws are working full time while most mothers work part-time.

I focused specifically on males of working age, to try to eliminate these factors.

* * *

If are after very specific data, and can describe it, very precisely, I will see what I can do. You would probably be better off going to the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, and going to the "Tablebuilder" page, and seeing what info is available. You can get a reasonable amount of info logging in as a "guest". I use a "Tablebuilder Basic" account, myself.

By the way, I would expect the trends in Aust and U.K. to be fairly similar, given the overall cultural similarities.

• ##### Ruby456

hi shepherdess