Wealth, poverty and inequality


Try this brief quiz:

  1. Which country is the richest in the world in terms of median wealth?
  2. Which countries come close?
  3. Which countries have the greatest and least disparity between the rich and the rest?
  4. In the richest country, what percentage of people live in poverty?

Have a guess, then check out the answers.

Some recent statistics

The world’s richest countries

According to a recent Credit Suisse report revealed that Australians are the world’s richest people.

  • Median adult Australian wealth is $US 219,505, 50% more than France and Italy, double that of United Kingdom and Japan, and more than double the rest. Median wealth measures what a reasonably normal or average person owns.
  • The mean wealth is always higher than the median, because the wealth of a small number of very rich people increases the average. Switzerland has the highest average wealth ($US 512,562), Australia is second ($US 402,578), with Norway, Sweden and USA next.
  • The ratio of mean to median is a measure of the wealth disparity in a country. On this measure, Australia is one of the most equal countries (along with Finland, Italy, Japan and Spain), with a ratio of less 2, while some of the more unequal countries are USA (6.7), South Africa (6.3), Sweden (5.6) and Switzerland (5.3).

Poverty in Australia

So Australians are among the richest people in the world and we have a more equal spread of wealth than most countries.

But poverty is still increasing in Australia. Unitingcare has released research that shows the percentage of people living in poverty has risen from 10.2% to 11.8% of the population, at the same time as average household wealth grew by 2.6% just last year.

2.6 million people now struggle to provide an adequate standard of living, most not eating as well as they should.

The bottom line?

I don’t feel happy about that. And it is quite possible that if you come from another country, the situation is just as bad, perhaps worse.

Something to think about.