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Economics

Distribution of Wealth

Scenario

Kylie and Jason have been in a state of perpetual excitement for months with the thought of the arrival of their first child. Life has been a struggle for them. Jason, like many other Australians, cannot get a regular, full-time job. He works hard and is conscientious but he is only able to get casual work. Kylie also works part time, but when her baby is born she will have to forgo the $80 a week she earns at the local sandwich shop. The monthly rental on the two-bedroom weatherboard flat still has to be paid, so Jason has recently taken some casual work at night. Upcoming costs associated with the birth and the arrival of the baby cause both of them to be anxious. How will they survive on such a small and uncertain income?

A few streets away Marika and Sam are also full of excitement at the arrival of their first child. They both have professional jobs and earn five times as much as Kylie and Jason. Both have been educated at expensive private schools, and attended Melbourne University, where they met. Money is not an issue and Marika has been able to afford her own obstetrician, covered by her private medical insurance.

On the eve of March 22nd Kylie is rushed to the Royal Women's Hospital. When she is admitted she finds herself sharing a room with Marika. Both talk about the impending births and are taken to the labour ward at about the same time. In the early hours of the morning of March 23rd both Kylie and Marika give birth to healthy girls.

Later that day their doctors happen to visit them at the same time. After they leave the room one doctor asks the other: ‘Why is it that one of these girls is born into poverty and struggle and the other is not? What has happened to the great Aussie principle of the fair go?’

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