Trends in wealth inequality (Gini coefficient) by asset type

This graph shows how wealth inequaltiy increased from 2003 to 2009, declined slightly after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and resumed its growth afterwards. During the boom years from 2003 to 2009, the Gini coefficient for wealth inequality increased from 0.57 to 0.62. After the GFC it fell back to 0.59, then continued to rise to reach 0.62 in 2017. This increase in wealth inequality was mainly generated by growth in the overall value of superannuation, shares and other financial investments, and investment property - all of which were relatively concentrated in the hands of high-wealth households from the outset (though they became less concentrated over time). Conversely, the proportion of wealth held in owner-occupied housing and other non-financial assets (which were more evenly distributed in 2003) declined, so their overall contribution to growth in wealth inequality was negative. If we break down the overall increase in the Gini coefficient of 0.05 (0.62 minus 0.57) to…


New research highlights risk of COVID pandemic increasing inequality

New analysis of inequality in Australia pre-COVID-19 provides a baseline against which to measure the impacts of the pandemic on income and wealth inequality. It highlights the ameliorating effects of timely Government policy responses – including increased Jobseeker and Jobkeeper payments – but warns that the long-term effect of the pandemic on income and wealth inequality will depend on how these policies evolve. Using the latest available ABS data (2017-18), the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report finds that, pre-COVID, the incomes of those in the highest 20% were 6 times higher than those in the lowest 20%, with that gap widening since 2015-16 (when the ratio was 1:5). An examination of wealth data shows that, for the first time, average household wealth exceeded $1 million in 2017-18. However, the distribution of wealth in Australia was deeply unequal, with the average wealth of the top 20% ($3,255,000) some 90 times that of the lowest 20% ($36,000). Those…


Inequality in Australia 2020: Part 1 - Overview

Inequality in Australia 2020: Part 1, Overview Inequality in Australia 2020: Part 1, Overview. Supplementary Report - The impact of COVID-19 on income inequality Factsheet: Inequality in Australia 2020: Part 1, Overview Where do you stand in Australia's income distribution? Find out now with our income calculator!


Share of people with different characteristics in the lowest and highest 20% income groups

The first half of this graph shows the share of each group of people with a particular characteristic who are in the lowest 20% income group of households. Older people, single people and sole parents, and those who rely mainly on government income support payments are more likely to be in the lowest 20% income group. The most important influence on incomes is labour force status. People living in households where the household reference person is not in the labour force or is unemployed are much more likely to be in the lowest 20% income group. People living in Tasmania and South Australia are also more likely to be in lowest 20%, along with people living outside capital cities. The second half of this graph shows that those more likely to be in the highest 20% income group are of working-age and in couple households without children (noting that income is adjusted to take account of the costs of children). People employed fulltime are more likely to be in the highest 20%, along…


Average household incomes for different income groups

This table shows the average income of households in Australia, split by groups of 20% by income; as well as the highest and lowest 10% and 5% income groups. 2017-18: Somebody in the highest 20% group lives in a household with over twice the average weekly disposable income of the middle 20% ($4,166 per week compared with $1,884), and five times as much disposable income of a household in the lowest 20% ($753 per week). The average income of the middle 20% ($1,884a week) is two and half times that of the lowest 20% ($753). Income is heavily concentrated at the top: average income in the highest 5% (at $5,796) is more than one-and-a-half times the average of the highest 20%. 2015-16: This shows that somebody in the highest 20% group lived in a household with over twice the average weekly disposable income of the middle 20% ($3,978 per week compared with $1,779), and five times as much disposable income of a household in the lowest 20% ($735 per week). The average income of the middle…


Trends in real average household disposable income

This graph shows the average annual growth in household after-tax incomes for each quintile from 1999-00 to 2017-18.  During this period, average annual growth for the highest 20% (after taking account of inflation), compared with 2.2% for the middle 20% and 2% for the lowest 20%. While this is the case, there were major shifts in income growth and distribution before and after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008. During the boom years growth in high incomes suprassed that of middle and lower income households. The average after-tax incomes of the highest 20% rose from $2,581 per week in 1999-00 to $3,619 in 2087-08 (5%0 per year). This compares with an increase from $1,308 to $1,733 for the middle 20% (4.1% a year) and an increase from $519 - $680 for the lowest 20% (3.9% a year). The income of the highest 5% rose during the boom from $3,514 a week to $5,611 (7.5% a year). After the GFC, growth in household income generally flat-lined, along with the trend in income…


Who sits in the lowest 40% and top 20%?

This shows what kinds of households sit in the highest, middle and lowest 20% household income groups, by main income source and the employment status of the household reference person (usually the household member with the highest income). It shows that most people in the lowest 20% are in households that rely mainly on government pensions and allowances (60%) for their income. Unsurprisingly, most (58%) of people in the lowest 20% belong to  households in which the reference person is not in the labour force (for example, retired, has a disability, or caring for a family member)Another 7%  are in households whose reference person is unemployed. More surprisingly, 20% of the lowest income group are in households whose reference person is employed full time. These are mainly families with children, since we have adjusted their household incomes downwards to reflect their higher costs. For this reason, almost half (46%) of the lowest 20% are in families with children, including a…


Average weekly disposable income

Thse graphs show average weekly household incomes (including social security payments and after tax has been deducted), by household income group in 2015-16 and 2017-18. For this purpose, individuals have been divided into five equal groups ranked by household income. At the highest and lowest ends of the income scale, extra columns have been added to show the average household incomes of the highest and lowest 10% and 5%.  2017-18: A person in the highest 20% of households has $4,166 per week, more than twice the income of the middle 20% ($1,884 per week) and nearly 6 times that of the lowest 20% ($753 per week). The highest 5% (with $6,796 per week) has nearly 4 times the income of the middle 20% and 9 times that of the lowest 20%. 2015-16: A person in the highest 20% group lives in a household with more than twice the average disposable income of the middle 20% ($3,978 per week compared with $1,779. The average household income of the middle 20% ($1,779 a week) is two and half…