Australians are wealthier than before COVID, but half the population owns over 95% of the wealth

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Australians are wealthier than before COVID, but half the population owns over 95% of the wealth

After inflation, Australia’s wealth increased by 7.0% between March 2020 (before COVID) and March 2023, driven largely by the rising value of owner-occupied homes – up 43.2% from $4.16 trillion to $5.95 trillion.

The value of debt is growing faster than the value of assets (53.0% vs. 22.2%), but not enough to stop the growth of overall wealth – the value of assets is now six times the value of debt.

Half the population now accounts for 95.4% of the nation’s net wealth, while the other half accounts for only 4.6% of the nation’s net wealth.

However, the wealth held by the richest 10% of the population fell from 47.6% to 42.1% of the nation’s wealth. The share of wealth held by the next richest 40% increased the most, from 48.9% to 53.3%. The poorest half of the population, dominated by renters, saw an increase in their share of wealth – but only from 3.6% to 4.6%.

The bottom 10% of the population has had the hardest time during the pandemic, with net wealth for this decile moving backwards at a rapid pace. The average amount of net wealth held by this decile is in negative territory and moving back, down more than 400% since March 2020. The bottom 10% of the population is the only decile to lose wealth over the past three years.

The importance of home ownership for wealth generation is illustrated by the fact that the richest 10% of Australians are dominated by those who have paid off or are paying off their home loans. Only 1% of the wealthiest deciles are renters.

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