6523.0 - Household Income and Wealth, Australia, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/09/2017   
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DEFINING LOW, MIDDLE AND HIGH WEALTH

In this section, the characteristics of households with different wealth levels are compared. For this comparison:
  • High wealth households refers to the 20% of households in the highest net worth quintile;
  • Middle wealth households refers to the 20% of households in the third net worth quintile; and
  • Low wealth households refers to the 20% of households in the lowest net worth quintile.




CHANGES IN WEALTH OVER TIME


Middle and high wealth households have experienced a real increase in average net worth over the twelve years. Middle wealth households had an average net worth of $528,400 in 2015–16 compared to $401,000 in 2003–04 (adjusted for inflation). High wealth households increased in real terms from an average net worth of $1.9 million in 2003–04 to $3.0 million in 2015–16.

Low wealth households did not experience any real increase in net worth over this time period with the average net worth of $36,500 in 2015–16 similar to 2003-04 ($33,000).

One factor driving the increase in net wealth of high income households is the value of owner-occupied and other property. For high wealth households, average total property value increased by $878,000 between 2003-04 and 2015-16 from $829,200 to $1.7 million. For middle wealth households average property values increased by $211,200 (from $258,000 to $469,200). Low wealth households that owned property had much lower growth of $5,600 to $28,500 over the twelve years.


Graph 1 - TOTAL AVERAGE PROPERTY VALUE, by wealth group, 2003-04 to 2015-16
Graph - Total average property value, by low, middle and high wealth groups in Australia from 2003-04 to 2015-16
Footnote(s): (a) Comprehensive wealth data was not collected in 2007-08
Source(s): ABS Survey of Income and Housing, 2015–16


Between 2003–04 and 2015–16, average study loans for low wealth households almost tripled, from $2,000 to $5,800 (up 66%). For middle wealth households, the average study loan more than tripled, from $900 to $2,700 (up 66%). Study loans for high wealth households more than quadrupled from $1,000 to $4,400 (up 78%).

Average credit card debt increased for low, middle and high wealth households between 2003–04 and 2015–16. Both middle wealth and high wealth households reported an increase of 41% in credit card debt, over the period. Middle wealth households increased from $1,900 to $2,700 while high wealth households increased from $2,500 to $3,500. The average credit card debt for low wealth households increased by 25% over the same period from $1,200 to $1,500.