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New Survey Sheds Light on NZers' Assets and Debts

New Survey Sheds Light on NZers' Assets and Debts

New Zealanders aged 18 and older have an estimated total net worth of $367 billion with a median value of $60,000, according to a new survey conducted by Statistics New Zealand on behalf of the Retirement Commission.

The purpose of the 2001 Household Savings Survey (HSS) was to collect information on New Zealanders’ assets and debts to help assess how they accumulate net worth during different stages of their lives. The survey collected information on individuals and couples and looked at the distribution of net worth (the value of assets minus debts) across these two populations. It also collected information to allow analysis of the relationship between net worth and other factors such as age, ethnic group and labour force status.

A full report will be published at the end of August presenting data from the survey, along with analysis on:

1. the distribution of net worth by demographic characteristic

2. the type and value of assets held by individuals and couples such as property, trusts, superannuation schemes, investments, businesses, farms and bank accounts

3. the type and level of debt held by individuals and couples in mortgages, credit cards, bank loans and student loans, and

4. the relationship between net worth, assets and debt.

Other key findings from the survey:

In general, people accumulate net worth as they age. Median net worth was lowest for individuals aged 18 to 24 years (zero) and highest for the 70 to 74 age group at $177,400.

Although age is an important factor in the distribution of net worth, there is also significant variation within age bands. For example, when ranked by net worth, the top 20 percent of individuals aged 55 to 64 held around 60 percent of the total net worth of this age group.

Thirteen percent of adults had negative net worth and 22 percent had net worth over $200,000.

On average, individuals had $17 of debt for every $100 of assets. The debt ratio was highest for those in the 18 to 24 age group at $63 of debt for every $100 of assets.

Government Statistician, Brian Pink, acknowledged the contribution of the more than 5,000 people who took part in this survey, and noted the use of new technology in gaining responses.

The survey, held between August and December last year, marks the first time that Statistics New Zealand’s interviewers have used laptop computers to conduct interviews.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician


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