6554.0 - Household Wealth and Wealth Distribution, Australia, 2003-04  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/04/2006   
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April 27, 2006
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
New survey finds average Australian household worth $468,000

The mean (average) wealth of an Australian household in 2003-2004 was $468,000 according to a new publication released by the ABS today. Wealth is a net concept and measures the extent to which the value of households' assets exceed the value of their liabilities. The mean value of household assets in 2003-04 was $537,000 and the corresponding value of average household liabilities was $69,000.

The median net worth (i.e. the mid-point when all households are ranked in ascending order of net worth) of all households in Australia in 2003-04 was $295,000, substantially lower than the mean.

The survey found a relatively small proportion of households had relatively high net worth, and a large number of households had relatively lower net worth, in part reflecting the common pattern of people accumulating wealth throughout their working life.

Main findings in today's release are:
    • Owner-occupied dwellings were the main form of asset held by Australian households, and mortgages were the main form of liability.
    • 70% of households owned their own home outright or with a mortgage. The average value of their home was $355,000.
    • For the 35% of households with a mortgage on their home, the average value of their home was $351,000 and the average value of the amount owing on their mortgage was $113,000, giving a net value of $238,000.
    • Nearly 20% of households owned property other than their own home, including holiday homes and residential and non-residential property for rent.
    • Balances in superannuation funds were the largest financial asset held by households. Nearly 75% of households had some superannuation assets. The average value of superannuation assets for these households was $87,000, even though half the households had superannuation assets under $35,000.
    • On average, households in the lowest 10% of the income distribution had higher levels of wealth and expenditure than households with slightly higher incomes.
Further details can be found in Household Wealth and Wealth Distribution, Australia, 2003-04 (cat. no. 6554.0), available free of charge.