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The Structure and Distribution of Household Wealth in Australia

  • 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))

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.

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File URL: http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/downloads/working_paper_series/wp2004n12.pdf
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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2004n12.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2004n12
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
Web page: http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/
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  1. Webster, Elizabeth, 2000. "The growth of enterprise intangible investment in Australia," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, March.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Phillip B. Levine & Tara Gustafson & Ann D. Velenchik, 1997. "More bad news for smokers? The effects of cigarette smoking on wages," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(3), pages 493-509, April.
  8. 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.
  9. 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, 03.
  10. 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.
  11. Piggott, John, 1984. "The Distribution of Wealth in Australia-A Survey," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 60(170), pages 252-65, September.
  12. 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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