ACOSS: inequality in Australia

ACOSS

Inequality in Australia: a Nation Divided, Australian Council of Social Services, Strawberry Hills, NSW, 2015

Summary of key findings

Income Inequality

  • Inequality in Australia is higher than the OECD average – a person in the top 20% income group has around five times as much income as someone in the bottom 20%;
  • Over the 25 years to 2010, real wages increased by 50% on average, but by 14% for those at the 10th percentile, compared to 72% for those at the 90th percentile;
  • Investment income for the top 10% doubled between 2004 and 2010;
  • Groups more likely to be found in the bottom of the income distribution are: over 65 year olds; sole parents; people from non-English speaking countries; and those reliant on government benefits as their main source of income;
  • Income is unevenly distributed across states and territories – Tasmanians more likely to be in bottom 20%, whereas people in Western Australia are more likely to be in top 20%;
  • There is also an urban and regional divide. People in capital cities more likely to be in the top 20%, while those outside capital cities are more likely to be in the bottom 20%.

ACOSS_Inequality_chart_income-distribution

Wealth Inequality

  • A person in the top 20% has around 70 times more wealth than a person in the bottom 20%;
  • The top 10% of households own 45% of all wealth, most of the remainder of wealth is owned by the next 50% of households, while the bottom 40% of households own just 5% of all wealth;
  • The top 20% of the wealth distribution owns 80% of all wealth in investment properties and shares and 60% of all superannuation wealth;
  • The average wealth of a person in the top 20% increased by 28% over the past 8 years, while for the bottom 20% it increased by only 3%;
  • Wealth inequality has declined since the Global Financial Crisis, but has increased over the longer term. (media release)

ACOSS_Inequality_chart_wealth-distribution

There was media coverage of the ACOSS report in the Guardian Australia and in New Matilda. The report is just the most recent in a long line of reports on inequality in Australia and many of them are collected here.

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