When it comes to the stock market’s performance in 2015, plain and simple, it was a year most investors would rather forget!

As if the weak performance of 2015 wasn’t bad enough, the 2016 calendar year has had a horrendous start with the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) losing over 7% already.

More than meets the eye

There is more to the story however. While the capital appreciation from the index was indeed lacklustre, once dividends are included (this aspect is captured by an “Accumulation” index) returns were vastly better.

Dividends save the day

So in 2015, it was dividends which provided a much needed boost to overall returns for many investors. Once again, this highlights the importance that dividend-paying stocks can have on a portfolio’s overall return.

Could it be more of the same in 2016?

With the oil price crashing further, the Aussie dollar possibly heading lower, iron ore and coal miners remaining in the doldrums and the outlook for the Australian economy sanguine, it’s hard to have confidence that the stock market will produce a stronger performance this year.

If capital appreciation continues to be hard to come by, high dividend-paying stocks will once again be in heavy demand and once again dividends will make a significant contribution to the accumulation index’s overall performance.

In other words, the ‘chase for yield’ could remain well-and-truly in vogue in 2016!

With this scenario in mind, here are five stocks which (according to consensus data provided by Morningstar) could be worthwhile considering for their dividend income.

  1. G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM): with a forecast dividend of 25.2 cents per share (cps) and a current share price of $3.22, this leading child care operator is offering investors a fully franked yield of 7.8%.
  2. IOOF Holdings Limited (ASX: IFL): with a forecast dividend of 55.7 cps and a current share price of $8.33, IOOF is offering investors a fully franked yield of 6.7%
  3. FlexiGroup Limited (ASX: FXL): with a forecast dividend of 116.3 cps and a current share price of $2.57, financial services operator FlexiGroup is offering investors a fully franked yield of 6.3%.
  4. Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC): with a forecast dividend of 191 cps and a current share price of $31.11, banking major Westpac is offering investors a fully franked yield of 6.1%.
  5. Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS): with a forecast dividend of 31.5 cps and a current share price of $5.34, telco giant Telstra is offering investors a fully franked yield of 5.9%.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur owns shares in FlexiGroup Ltd. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.