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JOHANNESBURG - A Momentum/Unisa Household Net Wealth Index report released yesterday has shown that South Africans got richer last year, albeit on an unequal footing. The report said that households’ real net wealth increased by R451.6 billion in 2017 to R7.3trillion - the first real yearly increase since 2014.

The organisations calculate the difference between the real value of assets and liabilities to arrive at the real value of household net wealth.

Johann van Tonder, a researcher and economist at Momentum Financial Wellness, said that the increase in household financial assets was responsible for 88percent of the increase in the real value.

“Financial assets received a boost in the second half of 2017 from the strong performances of listed shares and bonds - the instruments in which households’ retirement funds and other savings are invested,” Van Tonder said.

The JSE All Share Index was 12.9 percent higher at the end of the fourth quarter last year, compared to a year before.

While the real net wealth increased 6.6 percent last year, not all households shared equally in the development.

The study found that the top 20 percent of household income earners own 72.2 percent of households’ net wealth, while the bottom 20 percent possess only 2.7 percent.

The analysis further found that 65.1 percent of households in the bottom 20 percent income group’s assets are of a non-financial nature - namely durable goods, livestock and residential buildings.

However, financial assets are estimated to make up 70.7 percent of the assets of the top 20 percent household income group.

British think tank and charity group Oxfam earlier this year published its annual inequality report, which showed that the top 10 percent of South Africans received half the wage income, while the ­bottom 50 percent of the workforce netted just 12 percent.

Professor Carel van Aardt, of the Bureau of Market Research at Unisa, said distributional analyses according to education status reveal that households with a completed tertiary education have the lion’s share of household net wealth. “They have 51.6 percent of total income, 57.8 percent of net wealth and 59.2 percent of assets,” Van Aardt said.

“In age distribution, some 53.3 percent of household net wealth is in the hands of households between the ages of 45 and 54 years.”