Wealth gap growing between old, young Australians: report

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-02 18:29:45|Editor: Song Lifang
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MELBOURNE, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- The wealth gap between the old and young in Australia is growing wider, a national study published on Wednesday has revealed.

The Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, compiled by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne, found that income growth has stagnated.

Findings from the report highlighted that the median annual disposable income in Australia was 60,688 U.S. dollars in 2015, down from 61,632 U.S. dollars in 2009.

Roger Wilkins, the lead author, said that while inequality remained steady, the wealth gap between the old and young was widening at an alarming rate.

"One of the more concerning trends is a growing wealth divide by age group," Wilkins told Australian media on Wednesday.

"The difference in wealth between the older generations and the younger generations has been growing over time.

"It's very much connected to what's going on in the housing market."

Just 25 percent of Australians younger than 40 owned property in 2015 compared to 36 percent in 2002, the report said.

Nowhere was it harder to crack into the market than in Sydney, the report found, where less than 20 percent of young people owned a home.

Even those who do own a house are struggling with average debts of 268,101 U.S. dollars, up from an average of 134,774 U.S. dollars in 2002.

According to Wilkins, almost 40 percent of the young people who owned a house increased their debt from 2014 to 2015.

"I think that would be a reasonable argument that, in the face of incomes not growing anymore, that people are accessing the equity in their homes to fund their living expenses," Wilkins said.

"This is an economic and social problem for Australia that does I think require a policy response.

"I think you can't get away from the arithmetic that if you want more homeowners, you're going to have to have fewer investors in the market."