Fair crack of the whip? The distribution of augmented wealth in Australia from 2002 to 2018

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 04/21

Date: February 2021


Maximilian Longmuir


The omission of pension wealth potentially distorts the international comparison of wealth distributions. Private pension wealth is often included in households’ wealth portfolios, while public pension claims are not. Augmented wealth, the sum of net worth and pension wealth, resolves this limitation by including the present value of social security pension wealth. This paper provides a detailed analysis of augmented wealth in Australia between 2002 and 2018, capturing the establishment of the compulsory private pension scheme, Superannuation, which was introduced in 1992. Moreover, I depict the interaction of Superannuation with the public scheme Age Pension and how that affects the overall wealth distribution. Augmented wealth in Australia is found to be less equally distributed than wealth in Germany or Switzerland, but more equally than in the United States.

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