Why you’re wealthier than you may feel
It’s hard to imagine many Australians today feeling richer than they did this time last year.
The share market and superannuation funds went backwards in 2022, property values are still heading south, grocery expenses and other household bills are soaring faster than wages growth, and mortgage costs are multiplying, thanks to Reserve Bank interest rate rises.
We are collectively feeling poorer right now and pulling back on our spending, or at least planning to. That’s what the Reserve Bank wants Australians to do, so inflation will drop back to normal levels without smashing the nation into a recession. But the reality is that Australians are far from poor when our wealth – financial and otherwise – is put into perspective.
Whenever I’m feeling a little financially inferior, which usually happens when reading articles about executive salaries or Sydney property sales, there’s a website I visit to make it all better.
Simply type “How rich am I” into your search engine and you’ll find a site that compares your income with the rest of the world.
For example, a couple both earning the average Australian wage of $92,000 a year can punch in their post-tax income ($69,800 according to tax calculators) and discover they are among the richest 1.1 per cent of households on Earth.
If they earn the median Aussie annual wage of $65,000 – a more accurate income measure because it’s not skewed higher by high-paid CEOs – they still sit among the top 2.3 per cent of wealthy households globally.
We are also punching well above our weight when it comes to holding wealth. The Global Wealth Report 2022, by financial giant Credit Suisse, ranked Australians as the world’s wealthiest – with median wealth per person sitting at $US273,900 ($400,000), three times as much as US median wealth despite it having a larger number of billionaires.
Per person, we are twice as rich as people in Britain, Japan, France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Qatar.
Median wealth per person in China is $US28,258 ($41,000), in India it’s $US3457 ($5200), and in Africa it’s $US1111 ($1600). These global wealth and income comparisons are striking, but also seem unfair to the many Aussie battlers struggling on lower wages or equally-low welfare payments, and have been watching their groceries, utilities and other living costs climb just as much as higherincome earners.
We live in an expensive society that has become much more expensive.
Fortunately, there are welfare safety nets that rise in line with inflation, although there are always people who argue that welfare payments are way too low.
It’s not just money that makes us wealthy. There are no automatic weapons carried by citizens on our streets, and the crime rate is relatively low.
Australia’s capital cities regularly rank highly in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s global liveability index, although Covid-19 lockdowns knocked us down a few places.
We often complain about our struggling health system, but our skills, facilities, cleanliness, medicines and costs rank us among the 20 best healthcare systems globally.
And there are plenty of financial safety nets available.
Australians are certainly winners in the lottery of life – it just doesn’t feel that way for many people at the moment.