Many of you might be thinking that the heading is a typo. We all know that Australia is the lucky country, but surely we’re not the richest? What about those inherently prosperous nations, like the Swiss, the Norwegians or the Germans? We can’t be wealthier than them: one invented their own bank account!
However, a recent survey by Credit Suisse reported that Australians have a median wealth per adult of US$194,000. In second place was Switzerland with US$87,000, followed by Norway with US$79,000, therefore, not only are we the richest: our median wealth per adult is more than double that of the next wealthiest country.
What’s more, 1,571,000 Australians are in the top 1% of the planet’s wealthiest people – we have 905,000 millionaires. In order to be in the world’s top 1% you need a net wealth of US$710,000, and if you have net assets of over US$71,000, you are in the top 10%. The proportion of adults in Australia with wealth above US$100,000 is the highest of any country and eight times the world average. This is due in large part to our strong property market and obsession with home ownership, as well as our sparse population, high levels of natural resources and retirement scheme – Australia has $1.5 trillion dollars invested in super that many other nations don’t. The property owning democracies of the world, that is, countries with clearly defined property rights, invariably occupy the top positions on the world’s wealth ladder. Perhaps most striking of all is this: if you have net assets of just US$3,700, you are in the top half of the world’s richest citizens. Very few Australians have a net worth less than US$10,000.
Yet how many of us feel this way – that we are so abundantly wealthy on a global comparison? This can be largely attributed to the theory that people in consumer-driven developed countries tend to compare themselves to their peers and concern themselves with what they do not have rather than what they do have.