Aggregate physical wealth for all households in Great Britain rose by £86 billion to £1,102 billion in current prices between 2008/10 and 2010/12 - an increase of 9%.
Mean household physical wealth stood at £45,500, up from £41,100 in 2008/10.
More than three-quarters of aggregate physical wealth (77%) comprised household goods and contents in household’s main residences.
Just over one in ten households (11%) owned collectables or valuables (such as antiques, artwork and stamps).
Personalised number plates were owned by 7% of households.
Households in the South East had the highest (£52,400) and households in the North West the lowest (£40,200) mean value of physical wealth.
This chapter looks at estimates of household physical wealth from the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS). In WAS, physical wealth is derived from respondents’ own estimates of the value of the contents of their main residence, the contents of any property which the household owns other than the main residence and also collectables, valuables, vehicles and personalised number plates. The measure of physical wealth is based on the personal, private wealth of households. This means that it does not include business assets owned by household members.
Much of the analysis in this chapter is presented at the household level. This means that all physical assets held by individuals living within households have been added together to produce household totals.
Some individual-level analyses are presented towards the end of the chapter, considering the distribution of individuals by age, education level, economic activity and socio-economic classification across the physical wealth bands of the household they live in.
Household goods and contents consist of items found in the home such as furniture, clothing and electronic equipment. The questionnaire makes it clear that the value of household goods reported by respondents should not include collectables, valuables, bicycles or other vehicles. Unlike the other wealth components, every household has some physical assets.
Table 4.1 shows the distribution of households across the banded values of household goods and contents . In 2006/08, 11% of households valued the goods and contents in their main residence in the lowest physical wealth band, i.e. less than £5,000. This percentage fell to 9% in 2008/10 and in 2010/12, 7% of households valued the goods in their main residence less than £5,000.
Three in every five households (61%) valued the goods in their main residence less than £30,000 in 2006/08. This percentage fell to 56% in 2008/10 and 52% in 2010/12.
Considering the other end of the distribution, 15% of households in 2006/08 placed a value of more than £50,000 on the contents of their main residence. This rose by 2 percentage points to 17% in 2008/10. In 2010/12, more than one in every five households (20%) valued the household goods and contents in their main residence at £50,000 or more. Across all three waves of the survey, 2% of households valued their household goods at £100,000 or more.
|Less than £5,000||£5,000 but < £10,000||£10,000 but < £20,000||£20,000 but < £30,000||£30,000 but < £40,000||£40,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 but < £75,000||£75,000 but < £100,000||£100,000 or more||All Households|
Collection and presentation of data - goods and contents in main residence
The largest component of physical wealth is the value of households’ goods and contents in their main residence. The way respondents are asked to value these differs from other valuation methods used in WAS. Respondents find this hard to estimate precisely, so are asked to give ‘the approximate replacement value of household contents, which ‘is the approximate cost of replacing the items now, and may be similar to the insured value’. Respondents are asked to select one of ten bands for the value of household goods starting with ‘less than £5,000’ and ending at ‘£200,000 or more’. In order to estimate a precise value for household goods and contents for each household, which can then be used to produce estimates of total physical wealth and total household wealth, the mid-point of each band is taken to be the actual value (e.g. all households in the band £5,000 but less than £10,000 would be assigned a precise value of £7,500) with the open ended upper band ‘£200,000 or more’ band being valued at £300,000. Since this is the case, the preferred method is to present the mean for goods and contents instead of the median.
Household goods may also be owned in property other than the main residence (for example in second homes or buy-to-lets) . Inconsistencies in the way data were collected on goods and contents in other properties meant comparable estimates across the three waves were not available.
In 2010/12, the percentage of households declaring a value for goods in property other than their main residence was 7%. The value of these goods and contents, as a distribution across the value bands, is given in table 4.2. Due to the smaller numbers of households involved, some bands have been merged.
Nearly a quarter of households (23%) with goods or contents in properties other than their main residence valued these at less than £5,000. One in ten households (10%) with goods or contents in other property estimated the value of these at £50,000 or more.
|Less than £5,000||£5,000 but < £10,000||£10,000 but < £20,000||£20,000 but < £30,000||£30,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 or more||All Households|
Other household goods and collectables, vehicles and personalised number plates
For all other physical assets respondents are first asked to estimate the value of the asset. If the respondent is unable to estimate a precise value, they are offered a choice of banded values. The precise values of these banded responses are later imputed, based on the distribution of the actual values obtained from other respondents. It is, therefore, statistically valid to consider median values using both actual and imputed data. For comparison purposes, the other goods and collectables estimates have been presented using banded values.
The survey asks households about collectables and valuables they own, such as antiques, artwork and stamps. Table 4.3 shows that in 2006/08, 12% of all households owned collectables and valuables, which decreased in 2008/10 to 11%, remaining unchanged in 2010/12.
|Percentage with collectables and valuables (%)||12||11||11|
Table 4.4 gives the distribution of households with collectables and valuables, across the value bands. Just over half of households with collectables or valuables (51%), estimated these to be valued at less than £5,000 in 2010/12. Over one in twenty households with collectables or valuables estimated their value to be enough to fall into the top band of £50,000 or more (6%) in 2010/12.
|Less than £5,000||£5,000 but < £10,000||£10,000 but < £25,000||£25,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 or more||All Households|
The survey asked households about ownership of vehicles including cars, vans and motorbikes. Respondents are asked not to include leased vehicles and company vehicles, as these do not belong to the household. Thus, the figures in this chapter do not indicate how many households have the use of vehicles. Respondents here were asked first for a precise estimate of value, and only offered bands if they could not give a precise estimate.
Households are first asked about any cars, vans or motorbikes that they own, after which they are asked about other vehicles they may own. During the first two waves (2006/08 and 2008/10), a filter question asking respondents whether they owned other vehicles was asked - ‘Do you (or other members of your household) own any other type of vehicle, for example a caravan or boat?‘. Bicycles were not specifically mentioned in this filter question, although bicycles were one of the options given. Therefore some households may not have responded to the initial question if they did not regard a bicycle as another vehicle. In 2010/12 this filter question was no longer asked. This has led to a step change in the percentage of households reporting other vehicles (see Table 4.5).
The percentage of households owning vehicles rose by 4 percentage points between 2008/10 and 2010/12, with over three-quarters of all households (79%) owning one or more vehicles (Table 4.5). This is largely driven by the increase in the number of households reporting ‘other’ vehicles between 2008/10 and 2010/12. Nevertheless, there was still a small rise in the percentage of households owning a car; from 73% in 2006/08 and 2008/10, rising to 74% in 2010/12.
|No car, van or motorbike||27||26||25|
Half of all households with at least one vehicle estimated the combined value of all of their vehicles at £5,000 or more; a value which has remained constant across each of the three waves of the survey (Table 4.6). The questionnaire changes related to the recording of bicycles, help to explain the large fall in the median value of other vehicles between 2008/10 and 2010/12.
Tables 4.5 and 4.6 also show results for ownership of personalised number plates. The percentage of households reporting ownership of a personalised number plate has risen slightly between the three waves of the survey, from 5% in 2006/08 to 6% in 2008/10 to 7% in 2010/12. Half of all households who owned personalised number plates valued them at £500 or more, a median value which is unchanged across the three waves of the survey.
|Cars, vans, motorbikes||5,000||5,000||5,000|
|Personalised number plates||500||500||500|
Total household physical wealth is calculated as the sum of the values recorded for each household for contents of the main residence, contents of other property, collectables and valuables, vehicles and personalised number plates. Households may borrow money to buy things such as vehicles and contents. However, borrowing to finance such purchases will be covered when considering financial wealth. For these reasons, total physical wealth figures are only ever presented on a gross basis and do not consider liabilities.
Table 4.7 shows the mean for total physical wealth. The mean value of household physical wealth increased from £39,100 in 2006/08, to £41,100 in 2008/10 and to £45,500 in 2010/12.
|Mean household gross physical wealth||39,100||41,100||45,500|
Table 4.8 gives the aggregate values for household physical wealth for all households in Great Britain (i.e. the weighted sum of total physical wealth for every household). The aggregate value of total physical wealth was estimated to have increased by 6% to £1,016 billion between 2006/08 and 2008/10. Between 2008/10 and 2010/12 the value increased, this time by 9% to £1,102 billion.
|Aggregate household gross physical wealth||961||1,016||1,102|
Figure 4.9 shows the breakdown of total household physical wealth into its five main components. In 2010/12, the value of the contents in the main residence accounted for over three quarters of the total (77%), while the value of vehicles made the second largest contribution (15%).
This section considers differences in total household physical wealth by region of residence and household type.
Figure 4.10 shows mean household physical wealth according to the location of the main residence of the household. It shows Scotland, Wales and the nine English regions (with London shown separately; the figures for the South East exclude London).
The highest mean household physical wealth was observed for households in the South East, with a mean value of £52,400 in 2010/12. The lowest mean values of gross physical wealth were for households in the North West and the West Midlands (£40,200 and £41,400 respectively).
Figure 4.11 shows household physical wealth according to the type of household. This is split into 10 categories of household types. Households comprising of couples with no children, where one person is over and the other under the state pension age had the highest household physical wealth, with a mean value of £66,000 in 2010/12. Couple households with non-dependent children had the second highest mean average physical wealth (£60,000).
Single person households where the householder was under the state pension age had the lowest mean average physical wealth (£26,600) in 2010/12. The second lowest value of mean household physical wealth was seen for lone parent households with non-dependent children (£27,400).
Mean physical wealth values were noticeably higher for couple households compared with single person households. Part of this can again be explained by the number of individuals living in the household. A couple household will contain more individuals who are able to accumulate wealth and increase physical asset holdings.
This section looks at some key characteristics of individuals living in households by physical wealth bands. It is important to remember that analysis presents individual characteristics by the total physical wealth of the household that the individual lives within. In certain instances it is possible that this wealth is more likely attributed to other individuals living within that household.
The percentage of married individuals living in households in the lowest physical wealth band in 2010/12 was lower than any other marital status group (4% of both men and women lived in households with physical wealth less than £8,000 - Table 4.12). There are a number of reasons which might help to explain this. For instance, married individuals might be able to spend more on physical assets with their combined incomes than certain other marital status groups (e.g. single individuals). Also, married individuals are, on average, older than individuals who are cohabiting or single (please see demographic chapter), resulting in them earning relatively more than young individuals, and providing more opportunity for them to accumulate physical wealth over time. A higher percentage of separated individuals than any other marital status group lived in households in the lowest physical wealth band (28% of men and 20% of women). This could partly be explained through the transient nature of this marital status, whereby the physical contents may not yet have been split equally between the separated couple.
Married individuals were the most likely to live in households with physical wealth of £75,000 or more. Just over one in five married individuals lived in households with enough physical wealth to belong to the highest wealth band (21% for both married men and women). Individuals whose marital status was either divorced or separated were the least likely to live in households with physical wealth in the highest band (Separated – 5% of men and 9% of women; Divorced – 6% of men and women).
|Gender and Marital Status||Less than £8,000||£8,000 but < £12,000||£12,000 but < £16,000||£16,000 but < £25,000||£25,000 but < £30,000||£30,000 but < £40,000||£40,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 but < £60,000||£60,000 but < £75,000||£75,000 or more||Total|
The highest percentage of individuals living in households in the lowest physical wealth band was amongst the 25-34 year old age group (11% of such individuals lived in households with physical wealth less than £8,000) (Table 4.13). This might be partly explained through younger people earning less than older and more experienced people, and therefore less able to purchase physical assets. Also, younger individuals will have had fewer years to accumulate physical wealth. Individuals aged 55-64 years were least likely to live in households with physical wealth in the lowest band.
Individuals aged between 55-64 years had the highest percentage living within households with physical wealth of £75,000 or more (22%). Those individuals who were aged between 25 and 34 years were least likely to live in households with the highest amounts of physical wealth (10%).
|Age||Less than £8,000||£8,000 but < £12,000||£12,000 but < £16,000||£16,000 but < £25,000||£25,000 but < £30,000||£30,000 but < £40,000||£40,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 but < £60,000||£60,000 but < £75,000||£75,000 or more||Total|
Table 4.14 shows the percentage of individuals living in households with different values of physical wealth by education level. The percentage of individuals educated at degree level or above living in households with physical wealth of £75,000 or more (the highest physical wealth band) was 23% – 13 percentage points higher than individuals reporting no educational qualifications.
One in twenty individuals with degree level qualifications or above lived in households with physical wealth amounting to £8,000 or less (5%). This compares with 16% of individuals reporting no qualifications.
|Education Level||Less than £8,000||£8,000 but < £12,000||£12,000 but < £16,000||£16,000 but < £25,000||£25,000 but < £30,000||£30,000 but < £40,000||£40,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 but < £60,000||£60,000 but < £75,000||£75,000 or more||Total|
|Degree Level or above||5||4||4||9||8||13||12||8||14||23||100|
Table 4.15 shows the percentage of individuals living in households with different values of physical wealth by economic activity. Just over a quarter of self-employed individuals (26%) lived in households with physical wealth of £75,000 or more. This is 8 percentage points higher than employees and 19 percentage points higher than unemployed individuals living in households within the highest band of physical wealth.
The percentage of individuals living in households within the lowest physical wealth band was highest for those who were economically inactive due to sickness or disability, or who were unemployed (27% and 22% respectively). Self-employed individuals were the least likely to live in households with physical wealth of less than £8,000 (4%).
|Economic Activity||Less than £8,000||£8,000 but < £12,000||£12,000 but < £16,000||£16,000 but < £25,000||£25,000 but < £30,000||£30,000 but < £40,000||£40,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 but < £60,000||£60,000 but < £75,000||£75,000 or more||Total|
|Looking after family/home||19||6||8||9||11||12||10||5||8||10||100|
|Sick / disabled1||27||5||14||7||12||9||9||3||7||7||100|
Over one in four individuals classified in the group ‘large employers and higher managerial’ lived in households with physical wealth of £75,000 or more (27%) (Table 4.16). Individuals working in routine occupations were the least likely to live in a household within the highest physical wealth band (9%).
The percentage of individuals living in households within the lowest physical wealth band was highest for those who were working in routine occupations (27%). Individuals working in the classifications ‘large employers and higher managerial’ and ‘higher professional’ were the least likely to live in households with physical wealth of less than £8,000 (3%).
|Socio-economic Classification||Less than £8,000||£8,000 but < £12,000||£12,000 but < £16,000||£16,000 but < £25,000||£25,000 but < £30,000||£30,000 but < £40,000||£40,000 but < £50,000||£50,000 but < £60,000||£60,000 but < £75,000||£75,000 or more||Total|
|Large employers and higher managerial||3||2||4||7||6||12||13||9||16||27||100|
|Lower managerial and professional||4||3||5||10||10||14||15||8||14||16||100|
|Small employers and own account workers||6||5||6||11||9||16||14||8||13||13||100|
|Lower supervisory and technical||11||5||8||10||12||12||12||7||12||11||100|
|Never worked/long term unemployed||13||4||8||7||11||13||12||6||13||13||100|
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