Middle-income households are more than 50 per cent better-off over the period, about three times the increase enjoyed by comparable households in New Zealand.Chart 2: Trends in real incomes at different decile points, Australia, 1994–95 to 2011–12 The growth in incomes for middle-income households in the period leading up to the GFC was the second-highest in the OECD, exceeded only by Ireland.With 1,861,000 people in the global top 1 per cent, Australia accounts for 4.1 per cent of members of that wealthy group, despite having just 0.4 per cent of the world’s adult population.
But it is fair to point out that many other countries had similar or worse experiences; real median incomes in New Zealand, for example, fell 15 per cent in the 1980s.
As Australia’s economy started to recover from recession in 1995, median incomes began to grow, accelerating once the mining boom got under way in 2003.
Individuals or households at a particular point in the income distribution in one year are not necessarily the same as those who are at that level in other years.
Individual incomes are dynamic: even if most people are better-off than similar people in the past, individuals rise up and fall down the income ladder.
And individuals face risks over the course of their lifetime that can have a significant impact on their incomes.
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, or HILDA, has tracked a sample of around 13,000 people in 7000 households every year since 2001.
Real median wealth is about 8 per cent higher in real terms than it was in 2005–06.
In the United States, by contrast, real median wealth is about 35 per cent lower than in 2005, and median household net worth (including homes) is a bit less than US,000, compared to A4,000 here.