Despite global trends, Australia's middle class stands tall

Australia's middle-class spread

Australia still has the largest spread of people who can be called middle class, according to a study from the Credit Suisse Research Institute.

Its latest annual Global Wealth Report says Australia leads the world with 66 per cent of adults in the middle class. Belgium and Singapore have 60 per cent, while Italy, Japan, Taiwan and the US are at 55 per cent and New Zealand’s figure also tops 50 per cent. Average wealth is highest in Switzerland.

The graph below shows which global income groups did better over the 20 years to 2008. While the world’s very poor experienced only thin gains, much of the global population saw strong income growth.

Source: Credit Suisse Research Institute Global Wealth Report, October 2015

In populous nations such as China, India and Indonesia, economic growth pushed income up, even for many of the less well-off. The 1 per cent of top income-earners at the extreme right of the graph did very well, too.The dip on the right-hand side of the graph is largely due to weak income growth for the less well-off in rich nations such as Germany and Japan.

Researchers Christoph Lakner and Branko Milanovic say the global figures are “quite suggestive” of a relationship between the Asian income boom and the tough times for lower-income workers in rich countries.

The richest 10% of adults own 88% of all wealth, and the top 1% account for half of all assets in the world. Credit Suisse Research Institute

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March 2016
March 2016

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