Australia’s wealth

The rich, the comfortable middle and the rest: Australia’s wealth and income ladder revealed


The richest tenth of households owns almost half Australia’s private wealth followed by a “comfortable middle” of 30 per cent with 38 per cent, leaving the lowest 60 per cent – who tend to be younger – with 16 per cent of household wealth.

That’s the conclusion of new research comparing the upper, middle and lower rungs of the nation’s wealth and income ladder.

There are concerns economic inequality could worsen in the wake of the pandemic
There are concerns economic inequality could worsen in the wake of the pandemic CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY SMH

The average net worth of the richest ten per cent reached $4.75 million in 2017-18, underpinned by substantial property assets and a disproportionate share of stocks and business investments. That group owns 46 per cent of household wealth.

The next wealth rung – the comfortable middle – had average household net worth of just under $1.3 million. About half of that group’s wealth is tied up in their own home although investment properties (with a net value of $104,000 on average) and superannuation also make substantial contributions.

The bottom 60 per cent of Australian households had average wealth of $277,000, with owner-occupied housing and superannuation the biggest assets.

The average wealth in households with a reference person aged 65 years and over was $1.38 million – 1.5 times that of younger age groups (with an average of $904,000).