RDP 8606: The Nation's Wealth – Some New Calculations for Australia 4. Concluding Comments

This paper reports new estimates of Australia's aggregate private non-human wealth, in which all major components are valued at market prices or a close approximation. At June 1985, Australia's total private wealth was valued at $794 billion. The calculations suggest that previous studies have substantially undervalued Australia's wealth. Comparison with the (updated) series reported by Helliwell and Boxall (1978) (H-B), suggests that their calculations capture only a little more than half of the market value of private wealth. The estimates of Williams (1983), the second authoritative series , omits about one third of aggregate wealth. For example, for June 1981, the last date for which calculations are available for all three series, the H-B series estimates Australia's wealth at $295 billion, Williams (1983) reports a value of $361 billion and the new calculations reported here yield a total of $533 billion. In spite of the large differences between these estimates, it is possible to identify omissions in the coverage of the Helliwell-Boxall and Williams estimates which account for most of the discrepancies, and this lends some credibility to the new estimates. When allowance is made for inaccuracy in valuation, a range of $483 billion to $564 billion is calculated for June 1981. Even the lower bound of this range substantially exceeds the H-B and Williams estimates.