How to save Kiwis from poverty trap

Thursday 4 November 2004

Our low savings rate contributes to a mediocre standard of living and a lower class caught in a vicious cycle of welfare dependence. Kristina Greene reports.

By The Landlord

Ten years ago New Zealand had one of the world's highest home ownership rates. Now, with levels of house proprietorship declining, the country has to face one of the developed world's lowest levels of assets per capita.

The wealthiest 10 per cent of New Zealanders hold more than half of the total wealth and make 50 per cent of all savings, and the bottom half of the population holds less than 3 per cent of total wealth. Before retirement, Australians are more than twice as well off.

"Lower home ownership levels haven't been replaced by financial assets, people aren't saving more, and debt is rising," says David Skilling, the chief executive of privately funded think-tank the New Zealand Institute.

"There is an urgent priority for governments, businesses and community organisations to do something about it."

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