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The impact of age and location on total household wealth

Released: 04 June 2013 Download PDF

Data on household wealth in Great Britain shows that different age groups typically live in households that have accumulated different levels of wealth.  There are also regional differences in wealth across Great Britain.  Using data from the second wave of the ONS’ Wealth and Assets Survey (2008-2010), it is possible to see how these factors of age and region influence the distribution of wealth.

The first table shows the share of individuals in different age groups, who live in households1 with total household wealth2 exceeding £500,0003.  The influence of both age and region is apparent.   Amongst 45-64 year olds in the South East region of England, 57% live in households with total household wealth >£500,000.   However, for the North East region, amongst the same age group, this proportion is only 34%.  Meanwhile, only 11% of adults aged 25-44 and 13% of children aged 0-15 in Yorkshire and The Humber are living in households with similar wealth (>£500,000).

 

At the lower end of the wealth distribution, the second table shows the percentage share of individuals in each region/age group who live in households with total household wealth less than £50,000.  Amongst the older age groups in some regions the share is relatively low.  For example, just 6% of 45-64 year olds in the South East live in households with wealth below £50,000 as do just 9% of those aged 65 or over in the South West region.

However, there is some evident variation by region. In the North East region, almost one in four adults aged 65 or over live in households with total wealth less than £50,000 whilst for children aged 0-15 the share in London is 41%.

Pension wealth and property wealth are the most likely sources of wealth to differentiate those at the top and bottom of the wealth distribution. Whilst there is regional variation in both, the regional variation is larger for property wealth.

The main report gives more details of the wealth data analysed by age and region. It includes a number of visualisations showing the regional differences for each of the age groups, and also provides further information on how wealth is influenced by an individual’s age4, with the wealth of older age groups typically higher than for adults in the 25-44 age group.

 

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. The analysis and data in this summary and article shows the total wealth of the household in which an individual lives, but makes no assertion as to whether the particular individual is responsible for the wealth in the household or not.  In other words, it does not present information on a person’s individual wealth nor does it examine how wealth within any household is distributed across the occupants of the household. 
  2. Total household wealth is a net wealth measure for each household created by adding together the different types of household wealth; property wealth (net), financial wealth (net), physical wealth and private pension wealth. It does not include business assets, accrued rights to state pensions or assets held in Trusts.
  3. There is no specific economic rationale for the choices of £50,000 or £500,000 as cut-off points for this analysis – alternative figures could just as easily have been chosen.  The choice of these cut-off points was to simultaneously allow a means of analysing the groups towards the top and the bottom of the wealth distribution whilst also using rounded figures that are easily accessible for users.  Within the main article data is also provided using the cutoffs of £250,000 and £1 million. Note the <£50,000 group includes those with negative wealth.
  4. The data would be consistent with a life-cycle view of wealth in which wealth increases through a working career, peaking at close to retirement age before gradually reducing during retirement.  However, in addition to life cycle effects, the data is also influenced by cohort effects, such that particular generations can be favoured or disadvantaged by impacts such as the timing of house price increases or the relative generosity of private pension schemes. It is not, however, possible to disentangle the relative importance of these life-cycle and cohort effects when using cross-sectional data such as in this analysis.
  5. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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