Concentration and share of overall wealth, by asset type, from 2018 to 2021

This graph shows trends in a measure of the concentration (inequality) of wealth within each asset type since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2018, this ‘concentration coefficient’ was: • Relatively high for shares, bonds and trusts (0.89), own business assets (0.89), and investment property (0.79); and • Relatively low for owner-occupied homes (0.57), superannuation (0.57), deposits (0.55) and durables (0.34). 27 The concentration coefficient has a value between zero (complete inequality) and one (complete inequality). There were slight variations in these ‘concentration coefficients’ between 2018 and 2021, for example the distribution of owner-occupied housing became slightly less concentrated (0.57 to 0.56).  

Average wealth of 131 billionaires compared with the top 1% of households ($m)

According to The Australian newspaper, in 2021 there were 131 billionaires (with wealth over a thousand million dollars) in Australia. Between early 2020 and early 2021, when adjusted for inflation to 2019 values their average wealth rose by 12% from $3,169 million to $3,574 million. Their overall wealth rose from $416 billion to $468 billion.  

Increase in real net household wealth per capita

From December 2018 to December 2021 real net household wealth rose by 43%. Of this increase: * Over half (55% of the increase) came from owner-occupied housing (which comprised 37% of all wealth in 2018); * One-seventh (14%) came from investment property (11% of wealth in 2018); * One-sixth (16%) came from superannuation (22% of all wealth in 2018); * The remaining 15% of the increase in overall wealth came in roughly equal measure from shares bonds and trusts, bank deposits, business assets, and household durables18 (which together comprised 30% of all wealth in 2018).

Cumulative growth in superannuation assets

Superannuation account balances vary over time through a combination of net contributions (contributions minus any benefit payments) and investment returns. Since most superannuation funds invest in a combination of shares, bonds, property and cash deposits, their average investment returns broadly reflect returns on those investments. As a proportion of their value in December 2019, superannuation account balances declined by 9% by March 2020 then rose to 18% above December 2019 levels by December 2021.

Changes in the distribution of wealth since 2003

In 2003, wealth was shared very unequally. The highest 10% had 42% of all wealth, the middle 30% had 38% and the lower 60% had 20%. By 2018, the distribution was skewed even further towards the richest. The highest 10% had 47% of all wealth, the middle 30% had 37% and the lower 60% had 16%. During the COVID recession and recovery, wealth inequality moderated somewhat but wealth was still distributed more unequally than in 2003. By 2021, the highest 10% had 46% of all wealth, the middle 30% had 38% and the lower 60% had 17%.

Proportion of median income required to pay a typical mortgage on a recently purchased home (%)

Source: ANZ Corelogic housing affordability report, March 2022 Note: Assumes owner has borrowed 80% of median dwelling value and is paying the average discounted variable mortgage for a term of 25 years. Percentage of median gross annual household income required to pay median rent on a new lease   This graph shows that the proportion of median household disposable income required to service a typical home mortgage rose from 27% to 41% between 2003 and 2021.  

Net saving per capita

As outlined in our previous report on the impact of  COVID on income inequality and poverty, public income supports such as JobKeeper Payment and the Coronavirus Supplement boosted the incomes of many low-income households while COVID restrictions reduced spending on such items as holidays, entertainment and eating out35. The result was a sharp increase in overall household saving.

Increase in wealth, by wealth group since 2003 (%)

During the sustained period of economic growth from 2003-04 to 2018-19, wealth inequality increased sharply: * The wealth of the highest 1% of households rose (after inflation) by an average of $6.8 million or 84%; * The wealth of the highest 10% rose by an average of $1.9 million or 65%; * That of the middle 30% rose by an average of $380,000 or 44%; * That of the lower 60% rose by just $45,000 or 20%. In the first 2 years of the pandemic (during 2019-20 and 2020-21 including the recession), wealth inequality declined slightly: * The wealth of the highest 1% of households rose by an average of $1.5 million or 10%; * The wealth of the highest 10% rose by an average of $530,000 or 11%; * That of the middle 30% rose by an average of $168,000 or 13%; * That of the lower 60% rose by an average of $43,000 or 16%. In the third year of the pandemic (2021-22, a year of economic recovery), wealth inequality declined further: * The wealth of the highest 1% of households rose by an average of…

Profile of household wealth in different countries in 2020 (% of all wealth)

A relatively high proportion of household wealth in Australia (58%) is in non-financial assets - mainly housing - compared with a global average of 46%.

Change in number of workers employed by occupation (000s)

This graph shows that, from August 2020 to August 2021 (centre bars): * The number of people employed in lower-paid occupations rose by 71,000; * The number in middle-paid occupations fell by 5,000; * The number in higher-paid occupations rose by 251,000.