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Trends in wealth inequality (Gini coefficient) by asset type

Wealth inequalityInequalityTrends

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 its components, we can see that:

– superannuation contributed 0.04,
– shares and other financial investments contributed 0.02, and
– investment property contributed 0.01

This was offset by reductions in the contributions of owner-occupied housing (-0.02) and other non-financial assets (-0.01).

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