Australians are the richest people in the world on the back of the unabating boom in the country's housing market, according to the latest study of global wealth from Credit Suisse.
The Swiss investment bank’s fifth annual study of wealth trends around the world concluded that Australia is now truly the most affluent nation on the planet, with the median Australian adult worth over US$225,000 (AU$258,000) in June.
This compares extremely favourably to second-place holder Belgium, where the median wealth was US$173,000, as well as runners up Italy, France and Britain, all of which logged figures that were all around the US$110,000 mark.
The reason for the exorbitant wealth of the average Australian adult is the heavy representation of “real assets” – referring to property – in the household balance of wealth, in tandem with the continuous gains logged by the country’s housing market on the back of low interest rates and surging foreign investment.
Real assets average US$319,700 per household in Australia, accounting for 60 per cent of gross assets.
Since the turn of the century, the average Australian adult has more than quadrupled in net wealth, rising from US$103,151 to US$431,000. According to this measure, Australia is the second wealthiest population in the world behind Switzerland, where adults’ mean net wealth is US$581,000.
Despite its world-beating levels of affluence, Australia does not suffer from the extreme levels of inequality that plague many other prosperous economies. Credit Suisse researchers categorise Australia as nation with “medium inequality,” meaning that the top 10 per cent control between 50 and 60 per cent of the wealth.
According to analysts, the comparatively egalitarian nature of wealth distribution in Australia can also be attributed to the property boom, as rising home prices reduce inequality given their greater share of middle class assets.
“These are obviously remarkable figures for Australia,” said Credit Suisse Private Bank chief investment strategist David McDonald. “We are well positioned globally in terms of wealth, as well as the spread of wealth.”