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John Frank Burgess
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Australians might soon be expected to tip as frequently and generously as Americans, new research warns.

Faculty of Arts PhD candidate John Frank Burgess has assessed the origins, drivers and social consequences of tipping in Australia and the United States.

The research found tipping flourished in America in the early 1900's because a deregulated labour market forced waiters and bartenders to top-up dwindling pay packets with tips.

"And this might be where Australia is heading," Mr Burgess warned.

"Australia's relatively well regulated labor market has so far protected workers from the need to chase tips."

"But if we continue down a path of labour market deregulation, then sooner or later tipping will become normalised," he said.

The thesis study, 'Exchange in American and Australian Public Bars: Tipping as a Social Fact', identified several reasons why people tip.

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These include a sense of social obligation, to underscore personal relationships, to display financial standing, as a conversation starter or to get rid of loose change.

"People in Australia need to decide what kind of country they want to live in," according to Mr Burgess.

"If it’s one where it’s guided by free market principals, then that’s fine. But one of the consequences of that is a shift of power towards employers, and another consequence will be tipping."


Listen to an interview with Mr Burgess