Australian women have dramatically increased their wealth relative to men, with men now holding an average of 12.3 per cent more wealth than women.
That's a big change since 2007 when men had a 27.4 per cent advantage. Over the same period the median net worth for women over the period has risen from $116,400 to $134,700. For men, their wealth has risen from $132,300 to $135,000.
The median gives a better picture than the mean which is skewed higher by a relatively small number of very wealthy people.
A report from Roy Morgan shows Australians' wealth has grown at a good clip over the past 12 years, despite the sluggish economy and property price falls of the last few years.
Though the benefits of the increase are not evenly shared, with a separate analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Friday showing the wealthiest 20 per cent of households have done much better than lower-income households, some of which have gone backwards.
The Roy Morgan Wealth Report shows that per person wealth in "real"terms (adjusted for inflation) is 28 per cent higher than it was in 2007, just before the onset of the global financial crisis.
The median net worth per person in 2007 was $124,000, rising to $134,900 in 2019, or about 9 per cent higher, after allowing for inflation.
While the growth in wealth is a positive long-term trend, the increase in women's wealth stands out, said Michele Levine, the chief executive of Roy Morgan.
"The critical thing for women is increased workforce participation, both full time and part time, which, of course, has a direct impact on their superannuation savings," Ms Levine said.
The Roy Morgan Wealth Report is drawn from over half a million in-depth face-to-face interviews conducted in Australians' homes over the period from 2007 to 2019.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the labor force participation rate in 2017-18 was 67 per cent for women aged 20-74 years old and 64 per cent for women in 2007-08.
This rate includes people who are employed - either full or part time - or looking for work. In 2017-18, 44 per cent of employed women and 16 per cent of employed men aged 20-74 years old worked part-time.
The Department of Jobs and Small Business employment estimates that growth in female employment is likely to continue outpacing that of male employment, driven by strong increases in female full-time employment.
Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, the founder of Financy a website dedicated to women's finances, said other likely reasons for the closing wealth gap is that the pay gap is narrowing, albeit very slowly, and that the number of women buying property to live in and for investment is now outpacing men.
Roy Morgan estimates the value of assets of Australians has almost doubled from 2007 to 2019, up 96 per cent, which has outpaced the increase in debt of 78.6 over the same period.
"We see daily headlines about the risks posed by high levels of debt and falling property values, but when we drill down into the data, a more balanced long-term picture emerges," Ms Levine said.
Roughly half Australia's personal wealth continues to be held in the form of owner-occupied housing (49.8 per cent), down slightly from 51.6 per cent in 2007, while superannuation assets make up an increasingly higher portion, rising from 19.2 per cent to 24.4 per cent of Australians' wealth since 2007.
Australia's performance in terms of net wealth over the very 12 years since the GFC compares favourably with other rich nations - particularly with many European countries where net wealth has gone backwards. Ms Levine said.
- SMH/The Age