ACOSS: inequality in Australia


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%.


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)


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.

Click here for all items related to: ,
To comment or discuss, Log in to Honest History.

Leave a Reply