Australians’ median wealth is the highest in the world, new research finds

Australians have the highest median wealth in the world, with average household wealth having grown a staggering 13% a year since 2000, Credit Suisse’s annual global wealth report, released yesterday, shows.

The world’s done well since 2000. Total global wealth has doubled since 2000, global financial crisis notwithstanding.

This has been driven by emerging markets.

But Australia is unique among the developed nations surveyed by Credit Suisse in also having experienced staggering growth in wealth over the period.

Australia’s average wealth per adult is $US402,600 ($A426,100), which is the second-highest in the world after Switzerland. Australia’s median wealth, however, is the highest in the world, at $US219,500 ($A233,504).

Median wealth is the wealth of the middle wealthiest person in Australia, and so would be higher in a relatively equal society. When it comes to wealth distribution, most (62.6%) Australians had wealth between $US100,000 and $US1 million. Only 6.9% of Australians had a net worth of under $10,000 – a very low proportion by global standards.

Australia’s wealth is heavily skewed towards ‘real assets’ as opposed to financial ones. Australians have the second-highest real asset allocation in the world, behind only Norway, with most of our wealth being bundled up in our houses.

Australia accounts for 3.8% of the world’s richest 1%, despite accounting for only 0.4% of the world’s population.

What’s driving Australia’s extraordinary wealth growth?

Half of it, Credit Suisse writes, has been driven by the appreciation of the Australian dollar. The dollar’s extended parity with the American dollar has made Australian assets relatively more valuable compared to those of other countries when converted into a common currency.

Australia’s Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) system also plays its part: Australia has relatively low student loan debt, which means people start their working lives without being thousands of dollars in the red, as happens in many other parts of the world.

Australia also has relatively low credit-card debt.


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