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The Structure and Distribution of Household Wealth in Australia

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  • 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

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    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.
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    1. repec:zbw:rwirep:0455 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. James B. Davies & Susanna Sandström & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward N. Wolff, 2011. "The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 223-254, March.
    3. 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.
    4. M. Marković & S. Zdravković & M. Mitrović & A. Radojičić, 2016. "An Iterative Multivariate Post Hoc I-Distance Approach in Evaluating OECD Better Life Index," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 1-19, March.
    5. Jenny Chesters & John Western, 2010. "Evidence and Perceptions of Inequality in Australia," CEPR Discussion Papers 635, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    6. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Sonja C. Kassenboehmer & Mathias G. Sinning, 2013. "Locus of Control and Savings," Ruhr Economic Papers 0455, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Debajyoti Chakrabarty & Hajime Katayama & Hanna Maslen, 2008. "Why Do the Rich Save More? A Theory and Australian Evidence," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(s1), pages 32-44, September.
    8. Stefan Humer & Mathias Moser & Matthias Schnetzer, 2015. "Socioeconomic structures of the Austrian wealth distribution," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 269-289, May.
    9. Bruce Bradbury, 2008. "Housing wealth as retirement saving: Does the Australian Model Lead to Over-Consumption of Housing?," LWS Working papers 7, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    10. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. & Sinning, Mathias G., 2016. "Locus of control and savings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 113-130.
    11. Jefferson, Therese & Taplin, Ross, 2012. "Relational aspects of decisions to sell," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 697-704.
    12. Chyi Lin Lee, 2009. "Housing price volatility and its determinants," International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 2(3), pages 293-308, August.
    13. Deborah A. Cobb‐Clark & Vincent A. Hildebrand, 2011. "Portfolio Allocation In The Face Of A Means‐Tested Public Pension," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(3), pages 536-560, September.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. John Freebairn, 2005. "A Comparison of Alternative Tax Bases," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n11, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    17. Andrew C. Worthington, 2009. "Household Asset Portfolio Diversification: Evidence from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey," Discussion Papers in Finance finance:200908, Griffith University, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics.
    18. Roger Wilkins & Mark Wooden, 2009. "Household Debt in Australia: The Looming Crisis that Isn't," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 42(3), pages 358-366.
    19. Nicole Watson & Mark Wooden, 2010. "The HILDA Survey: Progress and Future Developments," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(3), pages 326-336.
    20. 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.
    21. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Hildebrand, Vincent A., 2008. "The Asset Portfolios of Native-Born and Foreign-Born Households," IZA Discussion Papers 3304, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    22. Torche, Florencia & Spilerman, Seymour, 2006. "Household Wealth in Latin America," WIDER Working Paper Series 114, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    23. Simon Anastasiadis, 2010. "Health and Wealth," Treasury Working Paper Series 10/01, New Zealand Treasury.

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