Survey results of wealth of Australian Households

The wealth of Australian households is mainly concentrated in family homes, investment properties, superannuation, shares, bank accounts, business assets and vehicles, a survey by the Australia Institute at the University of Melbourne reveals.

The family home is clearly the most important asset class for the Australian households. Approximately 67 per cent of Australian homes are owner occupied, the rest are rental properties. The mean value of owner occupied homes was $408,218 in 2002 which declined in value to $392,241 in 2014, a decrease of 4 per cent. At an individual level, 51.7 per cent of Australians over 18 owned homes in 2014 which was 67 per cent in 2002, a decline of 23 per cent. It is likely that in the next few years less than half of adult Australians will be home owners.

The mortgage debt on family homes increased almost two-folds from 2002 to 2014. The mean value of debt across all households was $51,881 in 2002 which was $100,689 in 2014, an increase of 94 per cent over the period.

Eighty four per cent of Australians had superannuation in 2014 and it is now the second most important asset class for Australian households. Only 76.9 per cent Australians had superannuation in 2002. The mean value of superannuation across all households was $186,011 in 2014 which was $112,114 in 2002, an increase of 66 per cent over the period. With this rate of growth, superannuation is likely to overtake the family home as the most important class of asset for households in the coming decades.

Equity investments are a sizeable component of Australian households, although the proportion is in decline. In 2002, 40.6 per cent of Australians invested in shares and it decreased to 30.7 per cent in 2014. Superannuation as a preferred vehicle for savings could have been responsible for this steep decline. The mean value of investments in shares across all Australian households peaked in 2006 at $56,402, declined to $40.815 in 2010 and rose again to $44,166 in 2014.

Ownership of businesses appears to have slightly declined between 2006 and 2014, with 12.8 per cent of Australian households owned businesses in 2006 and 10.4 per cent in 2014. The mean value of business assets has also declined over this period, from $60,327 in 2006 to $39,807 in 2014. Over this period, the mean value of business debt slightly declined from $10,847 in 2006 to $9,264 in 2014.

Australian household wealth in bank accounts has risen over the period of 2002 to 2014. In 2002, the mean value of bank account deposits across all households was $32,620 which was $51,118 in 2014, an increase of 57 per cent.

In 2002, 87.7 per cent Australian households possessed vehicles and it increased to 91.8 per cent in 2014. The mean value of vehicles was $25,838 in 2002 which was $27,051 in 2014, a growth of 5 per cent in the wealth stored in vehicles.