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Statistics NZ: Wealth differs by ethnicity

Wealth differs by ethnicity – Media release

4 November 2016

New Zealanders build up their wealth differently depending on their ethnic group, with Māori and Pacific ethnic groups building their net worth later in their lives, Statistics New Zealand said today.

There is also a wide gap between the individual net worth across ethnic groups.

As first reported in June 2016, European people had an individual median net worth of $114,000; Asian people $32,000; Māori people $23,000; and Pacific people $12,000. This difference exists even when accounting for the younger population of Māori and Pacific peoples.

While Māori individual net worth is lower than that of Europeans and Asians, Māori may also share in communal and tribal assets such as land and other wealth. Such assets have not been included in this study.

Wealth increases with age for all ethnic groups, but how this plays out as people grow older varies for different ethnic groups.

Ethnicity had no effect on net worth in the youngest age groups. Net worth was low for everyone in the 15 to 24-year age group. Young people don’t usually have assets but may have debts, like student loans.

Later in life, people start building up assets, but most of their debt is related to housing. This is when differences between ethnic groups start to emerge.

“Whether a person owns a house or not has the biggest impact on their wealth profile,” well-being and housing statistics manager Litia Tapu said. As reported earlier this year, the home-ownership rate in 2013 for Māori was 35.0 percent, and the Pacific rate was 24.4 percent. In comparison the European home-ownership rate was 54.6 percent.

The median net worth of European people in the 25 to 44-year age group was $62,000, while Asian and Māori people were two-thirds ($42,000) and one-third ($20,000) of this value, respectively. Pacific people in this age group had a median net worth of $16,000.

In the 45 to 64-year age group, wealth continued to increase. Māori in this age group had triple the net worth of the 25 to 44-year age group – a median net worth of $61,000 compared with $20,000. The contrast was even greater for European people aged 45 to 64 years. They had more than four times the net worth of the younger age group, who had a median value of $266,000.

Over time and across all ethnic groups, people pay off debt and those in the 65+ age group are mostly mortgage-free, owning their own home outright or with retirement savings. By the time European people reached this age group, their net worth was $317,000.

For more information, see Wealth patterns across ethnic groups in New Zealand – article.


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