STUDY: The Income Of 'Australia's 1%' Hasn't Increased For Nearly A Decade

Getty/ Scott Barbour

The income for the top 1% of Australian earners has not increased for nearly a decade, according to tax data analysed by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne.

In 2011-12 the share of total income was 7.7%, staying relatively stable from 2006 levels where it was 7.8%.

Based on taxation data, the analysis shows the 180,000 Australians in the top 1% earned an average income of just under $400,000 per year.

To be a member of this elite group, an individual required an income of at least $211,000.

However, the super rich, the billionaires and those worth hundreds of millions, did well in the last year. Total wealth on the BRW Rich 200 list reaches $193.6 billion this year, up from $176.8 billion in 2013.

Income inequality has increased in both advanced and developing economies in recent decades. According to the International Monetary Fund, there’s growing public demand globally for fairer income redistribution.

From the early 1980s to the early 2000s in Australia, there was a clear upward trend in the income share of the top 1% but something seems to have interrupted this growth.

Associate Professor Roger Wilkins, who produced the estimates, says the available evidence shows that since 2006 there has been an end to this upward trend, or at the very least a significant pause in the growth.

The analysis also shows:

  • 18,000 Australians in the top 0.1% of income earners each earned more than $600,000 in 2011-12, and had an average income of over $1,100,000.
  • 90,000 Australians in the top 0.5% of income earners each earned more than $290,000 in 2011-12, and accounted for just over 5% of total income that year.
  • 900,000 people in the top 5% of income earners each earned above $115,000 and accounted for just over 19% of total income in Australia in 2011-12.
  • 1.8 million people in the top 10% of income earners each earned above $88,000, and accounted for nearly 29% of total income in 2011-12.

The statistics were produced for the World Top Incomes Database, housed at the Paris School of Economics.

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