Research Discussion Paper – RDP 8606 The Nation's Wealth – Some New Calculations for Australia


This paper has two related purposes. The first is to bring together and review a number of earlier studies which have attempted to estimate the value of Australia's privately held wealth stock. The second is to present new estimates covering the 1980s, based partly on these earlier studies, which value all major components of the nation's private wealth at their market value, or a close approximation. The calculations reported here represent the first aggregate Australian wealth series for which comprehensive market valuation can be claimed.

Australia's aggregate non-human private wealth was found to be $794 billion at 30 June 1985. The series as a whole suggests that previous estimates have significantly undervalued Australia's wealth. At 30 June 1981, the Helliwell–Boxall (1978) study, updated by the Reserve Bank, reported a value of $294.7 billion, while Williams (1983) gave a value of $360.5 billion. The corresponding estimate for the new series is $533.0 billion. Because the new calculations presented here value wealth by component, it is possible to identify omissions and valuation differences which account for most of the variation between these estimates.

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