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The Structure and Distribution of Household Wealth in Australia

Author

Listed:
  • Bruce Headey

    () (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Mark Wooden

    () (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Gary Marks

    (The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER))

Abstract

2002 saw the first large-scale survey of household wealth carried out in Australia since World War I. Conducted as part of the second wave of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (or HILDA) Survey, it covered all main components of asset portfolios and debts. This paper uses these data to provide an overview of the structure and distribution of household wealth in Australia, providing estimates of the mean and median levels of household wealth by type of asset or debt, and estimates of the degree of inequality of wealth holdings. The data confirm that wealth is very unequally distributed, with the bottom half of the distribution owning less than 10 per cent of total household net worth (assets less debts), while the wealthiest 10 per cent account for 45 per cent of total net worth. The paper also includes an analysis of the factors associated with household wealth that indicates that wealth is significantly related to a range of factors including age, country of birth, parental occupational status, education, marital status, working hours, income, self-reported savings behaviour, a willingness to take risks and even various lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking and alcohol consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Headey & Mark Wooden & Gary Marks, 2004. "The Structure and Distribution of Household Wealth in Australia," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2004n12, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2004n12
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    File URL: http://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/downloads/working_paper_series/wp2004n12.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nicole Watson & Mark Wooden, 2004. "Sample Attrition in the HILDA Survey," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 7(2), pages 293-308, June.
    2. Mark Wooden & Simon Freidin & Nicole Watson, 2002. "The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA)Survey: Wave 1," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 35(3), pages 339-348, September.
    3. Piggott, John, 1984. "The Distribution of Wealth in Australia-A Survey," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 60(170), pages 252-265, September.
    4. N. Podder & N. C. Kakwani, 1976. "Distribution Of Wealth In Australia," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 22(1), pages 75-92, March.
    5. Webster, Elizabeth, 2000. "The growth of enterprise intangible investment in Australia," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, March.
    6. Phillip B. Levine & Tara A. Gustafson & Ann D. Velenchik, 1995. "More Bad News for Smokers? The Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. J. W. Nevile & N. A. Warren, 1984. "How Much Do We Know About Wealth Distribution in Australia?," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 17(4), pages 23-33, December.
    8. Juster, F. Thomas & Smith, James P. & Stafford, Frank, 1999. "The measurement and structure of household wealth," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 253-275, June.
    9. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    10. van Ours, Jan C., 2004. "A pint a day raises a man's pay; but smoking blows that gain away," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 863-886, September.
    11. A. W. Dilnot, 1990. "The Distribution and Composition of Personal Sector Wealth in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 23(1), pages 33-40, March.
    12. Barrett, Garry F, 2002. "The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Earnings," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(240), pages 79-96, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruce Headey & Mark Wooden, 2004. "The Effects of Wealth and Income on Subjective Well-Being and Ill-Being," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 80(s1), pages 24-33, September.
    2. Bruce Headey, 2008. "Poverty Is Low Consumption and Low Wealth, Not Just Low Income," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 89(1), pages 23-39, October.
    3. Robert Drago & David Black & Mark Wooden, 2004. "Female Breadwinner Families: Their Existence, Persistence and Sources," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2004n19, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    4. James Giesecke & G.A.Meagher, 2006. "Modelling the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-157, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
    5. Simon Anastasiadis, 2010. "Health and Wealth," Treasury Working Paper Series 10/05, New Zealand Treasury.

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