Author Archives: Mark Weblin

Is there a correlation between disadvantage and housing density on the Gold Coast?

This table lists (from the bottom) the seven most disadvantaged suburbs on the Gold Coast. The data is taken from the 2016 census and the criteria known as SEIFA (Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas). This criteria collects together data across a wide range of indices such as low income, low levels of education. employment in low skill jobs, etc., which together give an indication of the social and economic disadvantage within a suburb. The Gold Coast score of 1018 is well above the Australian, Queensland, South East Queensland, and Greater Brisbane scores of disadvantage.

The seven listed suburbs, ranging from Southport North to Biggera Waters, are the suburbs with the greatest level of disadvantage on the Gold Coast.

One feature that is quite noticeable for these suburbs is that they are all coastal suburbs. It is well known that coastal suburbs on the Gold Coast have a high levels of population density (measured as persons per hectare).

The figures on the right of the table are the 2016 census figures for population density for each of these suburbs. There are eleven suburbs that have a population density of greater than twenty persons per hectare. Six of those suburbs are in the above table.

There is a clear correlation between high levels of disadvantage on the Gold Coast and high levels of population density.

Of course, not every example of disadvantage is correlated to high population density as the example of Coombabah makes clear, but it is significant that the six of the seven most disadvantaged suburbs have high levels of population density. This is an important fact to consider in planning future high rise development on the Gold Coast.


Sartre and de Beauvoir: on essence, existence, and becoming woman

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were the two leading lights of French existentialism during the middle decades of the 20thcentury. Sartre’s theory of existentialism is known as phenomenological ontology, which is one of the most difficult topics in twentieth century continental philosophy. A somewhat simpler idea is the expression ‘existence precedes essence’. Apart from Sartre’s own elaboration of this idea, it was also used by de Beauvoir to discuss her thesis that ‘One is not born but becomes (a) woman’, a central concept in the development of the post-war feminist movement. Both Sartre and de Beauvoir also discussed the concept of ‘the Other’, an expression which was central in later discussions in continental philosophy of the concept of ‘alterity’. Sartre and de Beauvoir were lifelong companions and lovers, although they were not monogamous and did not live together.


Jean-Paul Sartre was born 1905 and, after an unorthodox education, he studied at the Ecole Normale Superieurebetween 1924 and 1929 so as to sit the teaching qualification agregationexam. He failed the exam on his first attempt, but on his second attempt in 1929, he was awarded first place, although he and Simone de Beauvoir, whom he had only met that year, were virtually equal in marks. In 1930, Sartre became aware of the phenomenological method of Edmund Husserl and the phenomenological ontology of Martin Heidegger. Sartre taught at various lycees in Le Havre before winning a scholarship to study phenomenology in Berlin between 1933 and 1935. His first book ‘The Transcendence of the Ego’ was published in 1936 and ‘Sketch for a Theory of Emotions’ and ‘Nausea’ in 1938. Sartre returned to teaching in various lycee in Paris from 1936 until the outbreak of war in 1939. Sartre was drafted into the French army as a meteorologist but was captured in Padoux in 1940. He spent nine months as a prisoner of war but was released due to poor health. He returned to teaching in Paris and was involved in the formation of an underground group ‘Socialism and Liberty’. He was strongly opposed to collaboration with the Germans. In 1943, he published his major work ‘Being and Nothingness’. After the war, Sartre became one of the leading figures of French existentialism. His 1945 public lecture ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’ was one of the most important statements of existentialist philosophy. Sartre wrote little on politics during the thirties, but after the war he became a defender of Stalinist Russia.

Simone de Beauvoir was born in 1908 and educated in a Catholic school for girls until 1925. She then studied at the Sorbonne and although not a student at the Ecole Normale Superieure, she attended the lectures and sat for the agregationin 1929, coming second to Sartre by the barest of margins. At the age of 21, she was the youngest student to have passed the exam. From 1929 to 1943 she taught at various lycee until her licence to teach was revoked for seducing a female student. In 1943 she published her first book, ‘She Came To Stay’, which established her as a writer and secured her financial independence. This was followed by ‘Pyrrhus and Cineas’ in 1944, ‘The Ethics of Ambiguity’ in 1947, and her major work ‘The Second Sex’ in 1949.

Philosophy: Existence precedes essence

Sartre’s philosophy of phenomenological ontology is a complex system of various difficult ideas such as absolute freedom, bad faith, and authenticity. However one simple introduction to his philosophy can be found expressed in the phrase ‘existence precedes essence’. For the Christian scholastics of the medieval period, essence was said to precede existence, such as in the example of a essence of rationality leading to the existence of a human. Sartre opposed this view, arguing that there is no predetermined essence to be found in any human and that any such essence is defined by how an individual person creates and lives their life. As he expressed it in ‘Existentialism is a humanism’: “…man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up into the world – and defines himself afterwards.” It is only through the exercise of choice, of absolute freedom, that a human essence can be created.

De Beauvoir transformed the phrase ‘essence precedes existence’ into the feminist proposition ‘One is not born but becomes (a) woman.”[1](“On ne naît pas femme, on le devient”) The importance of this sentence was that it distinguished for the first time between sex and gender. One may be born as a female sex but becomes a woman as having a certain gender as involving specific ways of acting, speaking, dressing, etc.. A woman may then choose to act ‘like a man’ in being assertive, confident, out-going, sexually promiscuous, etc., rather than, ‘like a woman’ such as being quiet, reserved, sexually ‘pure’, etc..

Philosophy: The Other

In ‘Being and Nothingness’, Sartre argued that the way we perceive the world is altered by the appearance of ‘The Other’. Hegel, in the 19thcentury, had argued that when the Self moves beyond its own self-conscious awareness, it must confront the Other (i.e. Not-Self) as an object of experience. The Other, in this sense, is part of the defining of one’s own Self. Husserl, at the start of the 20thcentury, had argued that the Other must be the basis of intersubjectivity (i.e. the relations between people) although for Husserl this conception of the Other was primarily a problem of knowledge. Sartre took this idea of the Other to be the issue of the psychological presentation of the Other to the experience of our Self. We experience the Other as an expression of who we are.

De Beauvoir took the idea of the Other to be something which is determined by gender. A woman is only Woman as she is determined by Man. In the history of philosophy, women were represented as inferior to men. Aristotle stated that women were “female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities”, while Aquinas referred to woman as “imperfect man”. In other words, traditional western culture was a patriarchy where women were a ‘second sex’. Further, this conception of women as the Other was also the basis of systematic injustice against women. Irrespective of identities such as race, religion, ethnicity, or class, women are always ‘second’ to men in terms of power, status, wealth, etc. and even so far as to the ownership of their own bodies. De Beauvoir also argues that in the creation of the woman as Other, an aura of ‘mystery’ is created whereby women cannot, in principle, be understood, which negates any attempt by men to do so (See quote below).



[1]In the 1952 translation of ‘The Second Sex’, the translator Howard Parshley, a professor of biology with only a basic familiarity with French, under pressure from Blanche Knopf, the wife of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, excised more than a third of the original text and translated one of the more important sentences in the text as‘One is not born but becomes a woman.” This translation suggested that the idea of ‘becoming’ simply referred to woman as a particular. i.e. that one becomes awoman, either as an individual or a part of a group, whereas the sentence should have been rendered ‘One is not born but becomes woman.” which implies that ‘becoming’ relates to woman as a universal ideal. i.e. that one becomes woman. Despite constant requests over the following decades for a new translation of the book, this was not done until 2009, and in 2010 the original missing third of the book was re-instated.




“In the chapter “Woman: Myth and Reality” of The Second Sex, de Beauvoir argued that men had made women the “Other” in society by application of a false aura of “mystery” around them. She argued that men used this as an excuse not to understand women or their problems and not to help them, and that this stereotyping was always done in societies by the group higher in the hierarchy to the group lower in the hierarchy. She wrote that a similar kind of oppression by hierarchy also happened in other categories of identity, such as race, class, and religion, but she claimed that it was nowhere more true than with gender in which men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy.”

What do you think this quote means and do you think its true?

“In a patriarchal culture, the Man-Woman relation is society’s normative binary-gender relation, wherein the sexual Other is a social minority with the least socio-political agency, usually the women of the community, because patriarchal semantics established that “a man represents both the positive and the neutral, as indicated by the common use of [the word] Man to designate human beings in general; whereas [the word] Woman represents only the negative, defined by limiting criteria, without reciprocity” from the first sex, from Man.”

What do you think this quote means and do you think its true?


Further reading

de Beauvoir: The Ethics of Ambiguity

de Beauvoir: The Second Sex

Sartre: Authenticity:

Sartre: Ethics:


Being and Drunkenness: How to party like an existentialist (Aeon blog by Skye Cleary)

This Digital Life

Since the beginning of the 21stcentury, we have been living in a world of greater digital connectivity. Technology, and particularly mobile technology, is part of our way of life, and is so in so many ways that were unimaginable in the last century.  This move into a digital lifestyle is part of a broader technological movement known as transhumanism.

Transhumanism is a transitory period from a biological, evolutionary, humanity (homo sapiens sapiens) to a post-human future where humans in this traditional sense are only one of three possible sentient entities, the other two being artificially intelligent robots (robotus sapiens) and technologically altered human known as cyborgs (homo cyborgus). There is no fixed date by when we become post-human but it is generally assumed to be several hundred, and possibly even a thousand, years into the future. The transitory period to this post-human future is known as transhumanism. Since the start of the 21stcentury, we have been living in the transhuman period.

Since the start of the 21stcentury, we have been experiencing vastly changing social and economic conditions and with the advent of the digital lifestyle a new discipline has emerged which studies the impact of technology on our lives. This discipline is known as cyborg anthropology ( (All of the concepts discussed below can be found in more detail on this web site) Cyborg anthropology studies at least four distinct subject areas: the second self; the social experience of technology; digital space and time; and cognitive enhancement.

The ‘second self’ is an area of our digital lifestyle that is occupying more and more time of our everyday experience although we are often unaware of the demands that it makes on us. The ‘second self’ is the self that we create, develop, and maintain in social media platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, e-harmony, etc. To understand this phenomenon, think of the ways we presentourselves on Facebook and how this might differ from the presentation of our self on, eg, Linkedin or e-harmony. We spend a lot of time creatingthese second selves, maintainingthese presentations e.g. by updates, and further developing these presentations. This second self becomes in time a separate, though related, entity to our original self and my original self will experience a range of emotions when the second self is supported or criticized.

There are various concepts that cyborg anthropology studies that are related to the second self. There is the process of Identity Formationwhereby our second self is created, perhaps with the assistance of a Templated Self, which is the area a social media platform allows us to provide information in the creation of our self. For example, a Linkedin template will be quite different to an e-harmony or Facebook template. This multiplicity of different presentations is known as a Distributed Persona. One important aspect of the second self that relates to cyber-security is Location Sharingwhere people freely share information about where they are and what they are doing at any moment in time. One final interesting aspect of the second self is the idea of Celebrity as Cyborg. While the use of the word ‘cyborg’ may be misleading here, the key point is that the creation, maintenance, and development of a second self is not dissimilar to the process of identity formation that a celebrity employs to market their image. This might include such activities as the creation of manipulated ‘air-brushed’ images of the self, the telling of overwhelmingly emotional, whether positive, tragic, or comic, narratives about their lives, the inclusion of stories and images of the extended family, and so on.

The social experience of technology is an area of critical importance to our own positive and healthy social relationships. One of the key areas in this respect is Social Punctuation. This occurs when ordinary social interaction is interrupted or punctuated by the need to refer to a technological device, typically a mobile phone. Also important in the experience of Ambient Awarenessand Ambient Intimacy, the former being when we are aware of another’s experiences without being physically close to them or without directly requesting specific information, while the latter is the experience of intimacy through technology, where our intimate connection with another is only ‘the click of a button away’. This is also called Continual Partial Friendship. This state of being as close as a click of a button is also called The Technological Womb. When all connection and socialisation is available at a click of a button, this can be called a womb-like state. In a very real sense, every thing – every emotion, experience, or thought – is the same distance away.

Another important aspect of the social experience of technology is called Simultaneous Time. This refers to our capacity to be in several different digital locations – Facebook, SMS, Twitter, etc. – at the same moment in time. Our capacity to experience time in its immediacy is disrupted by the various requirements of social media and other forms of technology. Related to this experience is Elastic Timeor Plastic Timewhich refers to social experiences which are highly interruptible and centred around the immediate concerns of technology. Relevant to this experience is that known as Temporarily Negotiated Spacewhere a technology user, such as someone making a mobile phone call, occupies a public space on a temporary basis and which is often implicitly negotiated with those people around him or her. This is also relevant to Boundary Maintenancewhere certain boundaries are delimited in digital or physical space, for the purposes of using the technology. The concept of Tele-Cocooningis similar to this, where one person connects with another in a digital ‘cocoon’. Another related concept is Hyperpresence where, due to the accelerated speed of social interaction  through technology and social media, the self of a person is present in a variety of different locations.

Other related ideas include Compulsion Loopswhere a system of intermittent reinforcing by social media requires a constant or compulsive monitoring of our technology, the Little Brother Syndromewhich is where, instead of ‘Big Brother’ watching down on us all the time, we continually share our information so that we can be constantly monitored by others, and Junk Sleep, where deep REM sleep is not achieved because we are using digital technology right up to the moment that we fall asleep. As a result, we often have very unsatisfying, ‘junk’, sleep. One final important idea is that of Persistent Paleontology. This refers to the way that a person, in relation to electronic media, increasingly act in a way that is paleontological. That is, electronic data about our personal identity is stored in layers that we need to excavate in order to recapture its meaning.

The third important area of our new digital lifestyle is the digital enhancement of our cognitive and emotional abilities. One aspect of this is Distributed Cognitionwhere we can access knowledge banks, such as Wikipedia, that are spread, or distributed, across the web. Another is the use of a Device as Memorywhere, when we wish to recall a particular item of information, we know longer attempt to remember that item but, instead, access it through a device such as a mobile phone. Related to this activity is a Hyperlinked Memorywhere we access our own memories through data stored on an external device. The combination of all of these factors and processes is called the Extended Nervous System. The nervous system extends beyond its present physical boundaries and incorporates various digital cognitive and emotional attributes. The sum effect of all these processes is not always positive and sometimes lead to an experience called Mental Fragmentation. This occurs when a person performs several tasks at once (known as a ‘Multitasker’) cannot recall all the various bits of information and suffers in the performance of those tasks. The demands of Multitaskingleads to a need for Unitasking, or the simplification of tasks done to the most basic unit. Unitasking describes the act of focusing on only task at a time, such as reading and understanding this sentence.

The final aspect our digital lifestyle is the creation of technological time and space. For example, with Space and Time Compression, objects and possessions, such as music and photos, that traditionally occupied significant areas of the physical world now exist in a digital format on tiny devices with large digital memories such as hard drives or USB sticks. This is also called the Automatic Production of Space. The ease of this compression leads to a phenomenon known as Digital Hoardingwhere we keep digital items which we don’t review but simply keep in their multiplicity because it is so easy to do so. Also relevant is the existence of Technosocial Wormholewhich is the compression of an experience of space and time due to technology such as taking a mobile phone call. As we take the call, we exist in a ‘wormhole’ that is independent of the Space and Time we are currently inhabiting.

Beyond the present environment of transhumanism, there are a number of challenging ideas that present themselves in the post-human future. A Consciousness Slumis a dystopian afterlife condition where an uploaded consciousness exists only in a digital state. An Artificial Heavenis the suspension of a body while the mind continues to exist, either in a simulation or in a connection with others.



The leading commentator in cyborg anthropology is Amber Case. Here are two brief talks by her on cyborg anthropology (from a 2010 Ted Women talk)

And this one from 2018, especially on Calm Technology

And from 2015 on Designing for the Internet of Things.

Calm technology is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in the user’s periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention. Information from the technology smoothly shifts to the user’s attention when needed but otherwise stays calmly in the user’s periphery. This is in contrast to Panic Architecture which is a participatory architecture such as Facebook, that demands compulsive interaction and attention. Digital panic occurs when multiple systems of intermittent reinforcement concurrently demand a user’s attention.

What is stupidity?

Do you ever act in stupid ways? Do you know stupid people? Are you stupid?

What is stupidity? Is it a state of mind? Is it a way of acting? Is it a type of personality?

The English word ‘stupid’ originated in the 16thcentury and meant mentally slow, dull, or inane: it is a look of not knowing what to say or do. The modern sense of the word can incorporate various meanings from slowness of mind, a state of insensibility (stupor), dullness of feeling (torpidity), or lacking in interest (uninterested). The word ‘stupid’ derived, through 16thcentury French stupide, from the Latin stupidus– to be amazed, confounded, dull, or foolish – which in turn had originated in stupere, meaning ‘to be struck senseless’. This word had a further origin in the Proto-Indo European language group (4,000 yrs BCE) as stupe- meaning ‘to hit’ – which itself meant ‘to push, stick, knock, or beat’ – thereby indicating an expression of senselessness when one is beaten or hit.

Stupidity is distinct from idiocy. The word ‘idiot’ derives from the Greek idiotesmeaning a private citizen, an unskilled layman, who, in virtue of their lack of skill, did not participate in public life. Some commentators have taken this fact to mean that a person who does not take part in public life is selfish and foolish. In the Roman period, the word came to mean someone who was crude, uneducated, and ignorant and eventually, in the Middle Ages, it was used as a synonym for stupid. In 14thcentury England, an idiot was someone who was ‘mentally deficient’. By the 20thcentury the word ‘idiot’, along with its cognates, ‘moron’, ‘imbecile’, and ‘cretin’, was a legal term defining a psychiatric condition of profound intellectual disability – a person with a mental age of two or less. These terms came to be regarded as offensive and fell out of use, although ‘idiot’ is still used as a derogatory term for a stupid or foolish person.

Stupidity is also distinct from foolishness. Foolishness is a way of thinking that is dogmatic and rigid. Foolishness may refer specifically to acting contrary to social norms and may include a lack of empathy and an incapacity to co-operate. A foolish person may also have illusions of grandeur. We think that a person is foolish when they make a statement that is not thought out. So while stupidity and foolishness are closely related, a foolish person makes statements on subjects on which they know nothing, while a stupid person may know their subject matter quite well but, for various emotional reasons, makes an assertion, or acts in a way, that is contrary to the logic of the situation.

Bigotry is an unthinking way of acting: does this make us stupid? No doubt, many bigoted statements are also quite stupid assertions, but a bigot can also be a relatively intelligent person. Many bigots rise to positions of great power and authority, although they do not rise to high levels of education. Bigotry, meaning an intolerance for those who hold different beliefs or customs, seems to derive from a lack of emotional intelligence and empathy, rather than a state of stupidity.

Finally, stupidity is not simply ignorance. We are, by definition, ignorant of a great many things. We are not omniscient. So ignorance does not make us stupid. Nor is stupidity a lack of education. Uneducated people can be quite intelligent, while educated people can exhibit a special type of intellectual stupidity. More on this later.

Stupidity refers to a certain way of acting that is unreflective and not thought out. I make a rash statement and then realise that that was a stupid thing to say. We all probably do this at some time in our lives but this does not make us a stupid person. To be a stupid person, we would have to act in an unthinking manner on a consistent basis.

So what is stupidity?

The philosopher, Walter B. Pitkin, believed stupidity to be the ‘Supreme Social Evil’ and did so for three reasons: Firstly, the number of stupid people is so huge that they are inestimable; secondly, for some reason, stupid people succeed to positions of great power in business and politics (we might call a government by idiots, an idiotocracy); and finally, people with highly developed abilities can also be afflicted with serious stupidity.

James F. Welles, in his book Understanding Stupidity, argued that stupidity must have at least three characteristics: that it is maladaptive, deliberate, and informed. That is to say a stupid person acts in a way that it will prevent adaption to new data or to changed circumstances. Such behaviour brings no benefit to the person and may actually occasion harm to themselves. Further they must know that they are acting in a way that is not beneficial for them and finally they must make a choice to act in this way. Stupidity then, is self-defeating behaviour. We gain no advantage by acting in a stupid manner or saying stupid things, even though we know that we will gain no advantage but yet still choose to act in that way.

Why would we do this?

Otto Fenichel, a psychiatrist who had an important influence on Jacques Lacan, argued that “…people become stupid ad hoc, that is, when they do not wantto understand, where understanding would cause anxiety or guilt feeling, or would endanger an existing neurotic equilibrium.”This appears to capture an essential truth about stupidity. Stupidity is a choice originating from an emotional blockage. We act or speak in a stupid fashion when we do so impulsively and without regard to the consequences, knowing that such actions or words will not benefit us one bit.

The economist, Carlo Maria Cipolla, formulated several laws of stupidity. Firstly, reflecting Pitkin’s point, non-stupid people always underestimate the number of stupid people that there are. For some unknown reason, intelligent people always assume that there are less stupid people than there actually are, or, conversely, that there are more intelligent people than there actually are. Secondly, intelligent people typically underestimate the harm that stupid people can actually do. This is due, in part, to the fact that intelligent people underestimate the number of stupid people, but mainly it has to do with the fact that stupid people typically act against their own best interests. If both of these points are true, then stupid people can inflict enormous damage and harm. Thirdly, a stupid person, and this fact defines an essential aspect of stupidity, that stupid people will cause harm to other people, and even, quite perversely, to themselves, without experiencing any personal gain. As intelligent people, we often assume that no-one, for no good reason, would do something that brings no benefit to themselves. But this is exactly what stupid people do. They act in ways where, not only is no benefit gained, but they may eventually be harmed by their actions. And when this is true for themselves, it is doubly true with relation to other people. Fourthly, the occurrence of stupidity is quite independent of any other personality characteristic. Musicians, artists, scientists, business leaders, politicians, etc., etc., can all be quite stupid people. Finally, when we add all these attributes together, we discover that a stupid person is the most dangerous sort of person that there is. It is a wonder that we have survived as long as we have. This world of stupidity is indeed a bleak place.

Apart from these laws of stupidity, there are also various types of stupidity.

Tactical stupidity, otherwise know as willful ignorance, occurs when people are aware of certain facts but refuse to acknowledge them. Their stupidity is a tactical maneuver, designed to forestall objections or criticism. They know there are facts out there which would contradict their position, but they claim ignorance of these facts and, in doing so, claim the right for the truth of those facts to be established. They have to, they claim, need to examine the basis of these facts themselves, and hence postpone the debate proceeding forward.

Protective stupidityoccurs when the thinking process stops at the threshold of what it takes to be dangerous thought. It involves not seeing logical errors, not grasping the power of an analogy, misrepresenting simple arguments, or being bored or repelled by any line of thinking that leads in a dangerous or heretical direction. George Orwell, in 1984, described this as Crimestop: we stop thinking along a certain line if we think it will lead to heresy or some other intellectual crime.

The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak. . . . He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions — ‘the Party says the Earth is flat’, ‘the Party says that ice is heavier than water’ — and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them.

A final, important type of stupidity is intellectual stupidity. Doris Lessing wrote “…there is no fool like an intellectual … (They possess) a kind of clever stupidity, bred out of a line of logic in the head, nothing to do with experience.” For anyone with experience of intellectuals, this type is well known. The sophisticated intellectual, with all their fine theories and grand ideas, can really, when we get down into the real world experience, be quite stupid. Their headful of ideas actually inhibits their experience of the real world.

Not surprisingly, that pin-up boy for post-modernism, Michel Foucault, made the same sort of point when he argued that we need stupidity to re-connect with those experiences that our articulate, conscious categories exclude: that is, we require stupidity to recapture the alterity of difference. Foucault’s point is that the categories by which we understand the world are in fact obstacles to directly experiencing, and thereby understanding, the world around us. Hence we require stupidity to experience the world directly! Without wishing to say the Foucault is wrong in this respect, and there is no reason to assume that he is, or he isn’t, the important point remains that there is an important connection between intelligent people and stupid people.

The stupidity of intelligent people is that they believe that the stupid are far more intelligent than they actually are. This is despite the fact that, time and time again, stupid people act in a way which is, quite simply, stupid. On the other hand, the intelligence of stupid people is that they believe that intelligent people are far more stupid than they believe themselves to be. The correctness of this view is based on the fact that stupid people, despite their stupidity, recognise that intelligent people consistently underestimate the extent and strength of stupidity within a community, and consistently over-estimate their own importance.

Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles to the spread of stupidity within society is not the stupid people themselves – they have always existed in great numbers and always will so exist – but rather the arrogance of intelligent people who believe that stupid people should act in what they deem a more intelligent way, which, in itself, is an indication of their own stupidity.

Gold Coast Households

The last important indicator when looking at lifestyle on the Gold Coast is household and there are four main measures in assessing this – household type, dwelling structure, bedrooms per dwelling, and people per dwelling.


Household types are divided into three main types: couples with children, couples without children, and lone person households. The most common household type on the Gold Coast in 2016 was couples with children (28%). Within this type, the most common arrangement was couples with young children (16%) followed by couples with older children (8%) These figures were all close to State and National averages.The next most common type was couples without children (25%), of which the most common type was older couples (10%). Lone person households accounted for 21% of all household types, of which the most common was older people (65years +) living by themselves (9%). These figures were all close to State and National averages.


The most common number of bedrooms per dwelling was three (34%) and this was close to State and National average. 26% of dwellings had four bedrooms and 20% of dwellings had two bedrooms. 6% of dwellings had one bedroom and 6% of dwellings had five or more bedrooms. All these figures were close to State and National average.


The most common number of people per dwelling was two (36%), followed by one (23%), three (17%), and four (15%). More than five people per dwelling accounted for 9% of all residences. All these figures were close to State and National averages.


In 2016, 55% of the Gold Coast lived in separate houses as the main dwelling structure. This was almost 20% under the State and National figures.24% of Gold Coast dwelling structures were medium density and 19% were high density structures. Both of these figures were well above State (16% and 8%) and National (18% and 9%) percentages.


With respect to household types, number of bedrooms per dwelling, and number of persons per dwelling the Gold Coast is close to State and National averages. Where the Gold Coast does vary markedly from State and National figures is in terms of dwelling structure. The Gold Coast has substantially more medium and high density dwellings than either Queensland or Australia.


The Unremarkable Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is the six largest city in Australia and the largest regional city. It is located between Brisbane to the north and the N.S.W. to the south, with beaches to the east and extensive national parks to the west. It is also the fastest growing region in Australia.


Often when we think about the Gold Coast and its people, we think in clichés.

We might think of it as an expensive retirement village dominated by over 55’s, playing golf, a bit of fishing or swimming, and a regular night out at the local club.

Or we might think of it as a playground for the young and the restless. On any given Friday night, the under 35 set will be out partying until the wee small hours. On any given Saturday morning, these same people will be out at their local beach or gym, running, swimming, sweating, or sipping on their turmeric latte at their local café,

So it would be natural to think of the population of the Gold Coast is dominated by over 55’s, with a significant population in the age range 18-35.

But what are the facts?

Well, somewhat surprisingly, the population of the Gold Coast, across almost every significant measure –age profiles, work, income and cost of housing, and households – is almost identical with Queensland and Australian percentages for these measures.

  • The age profile of the Gold Coast did not vary by more than 1% from Queensland and Australian figures. (See Gold Coast Age Profile)
  • Almost all occupation and industry employment groups varied by no more than 1% from State and National percentages. The exceptions were trade workers, but professional workers and people employed in the construction industry and the food and accommodation industry. (See Gold Coast Employment)
  • In terms of income, 53% of individual income for the city was in the range $0-$40,000, while 47% of household income was in the range $0-$78,000. Both of these figures were almost identical with State and National percentages. (See Gold Coast Income)
  • In terms of housing, there were less fully owned premises and more rented premises on the Gold Coast when compared to State and National figures. The percentage of housing under mortgage varied by only 1% from State and National figures. (See Gold Coast Cost of Housing)
  • In terms of cost of mortgage repayments, the median weekly mortgage repayment for the Gold Coast in 2016 was $443, which was slightly higher than the State and National average. (See Gold Coast Cost of Housing)
  • The median weekly rent in 2016 was $395 which was slightly higher than the State and National average. (See Gold Coast Cost of Housing)
  • The three most common household types on the Gold Coast in 2016 were couples with children, couples without children, and lone person households which were all close to State and National averages. (See Gold Coast Households)
  • The most common number of bedrooms per dwelling was three, followed by four and two. These figures were all close to State and National averages. (See Gold Coast Households)
  • The most common number of people per dwelling was two (36%), followed by one (23%), three (17%), and four (15%). All these figures were close to State and National averages. (See Gold Coast Households)
  • In 2016, 55% of the Gold Coast lived in separate houses as the main dwelling structure. This was almost 20% under the State and National figures. 24% of Gold Coast dwelling structures were medium density and 19% were high density structures. Both of these figures were well above State (16% and 8%) and National (18% and 9%) percentages. (See Gold Coast Households)


It is remarkable that, despite the appearance of the Gold Coast being a unique city in terms of its population, it conforms to State and National averages on almost every population measure except for one – dwelling type. Not unsurprisingly, when we look at the iconic images of the coastal skyline, the Gold Coast has a higher propensity for medium and high density living when compared to either Queensland or Australia. But on every other measure – age profile, occupation and industry of employment, income and cost of housing, and household types – it is a rather typical and unremarkable Australian city. It seems then that the most remarkable thing about the Gold Coast is how unremarkable it actually is.


Gold Coast Cost of Housing

When we look at cost of housing, we need to distinguish rental premises from accommodation under mortgage. There are more rented residences (34%) and less fully owned residences (25%) on the Gold Coast when compared to State (32% and 27%) and National figures (29% for both). The percentage of housing under mortgage (31%) varied by only 1% from State and National figures.


With regard to the cost of housing, there are two main measures to take account of: mortgage repayments and rental payments. The median weekly mortgage repayment for the Gold Coast in 2016 was $443, which was $34-$37 pw higher than the State and National average. It was also $14 higher than median mortgages for Brisbane.  43% of monthly mortgage repayments were under $1,800 which was less than the State (49%) and National (48%) figures. 29% of monthly mortgage repayments were between $1,800 and $2,200 which was higher than the State and National average of 25%. 33% of repayments were greater than $2,200 which was higher than both the State and National figures (28% and 30%).


The median weekly rent on the Gold Coast in 2016 was $395 which was $55-$60 pw higher than the State and National average. It was also $32 pw higher than the average for Brisbane. In 2016, 69% of rental payments were in the range $300-$550 which was higher than the State and National percentages (53% and 48%).  Only 18% pay less than $300 pw which is significantly less than the State and National average of 37% and 31%.


There were less fully owned premises and more rented premises on the Gold Coast when compared to State and National figures, although these variations were not large (less than 5%). There was more rental accommodation and less fully owned residences, although the residences under mortgage was the same as State and National figures. The median Gold Coast mortgage was 7% higher than State and National figures and with 4% more households paying mid-range mortgages when compared to State and National averages and 3-5% paying high range mortgages. The median Gold Coast rental was 15% higher than the State and National average, with substantially less households in the lowest rental bracket and substantially more people paying in the mid to high bracket. In summary, the cost of housing on the Gold Coast, whether rental or mortgage, was much more expensive.

Gold Coast Income

When we look at income, we need to distinguish between individual income and household income. The main individual income bracket for the Gold Coast in 2016 was $0-$800 pw ($0-$40,000 pa) which comprised 53% of total individual income for the city. This figure was close to the State and National average.


The most common household income bracket on the Gold Coast in 2016 was under $1,500 pw ($78,000) which accounted for 47% of all households. This figure was close to State and National averages. The next major income bracket was $1,500 – $3,000 ($78,000-$156,000) and this accounted for 29% of all households. Again, this was the same as the State and National percentages.


So both individual and household income on theGold Coast was almost identical with State and National percentages.