Population Review, 56(2), 2017, pages 78-101
Population ageing through much of the developed world presents the opportunity for a massive transfer of wealth across generations. One important and understudied intergenerational transfer in Australia occurs at or near death through inheritance or inter vivo transfers. In Australia, the number of deaths is projected to increase 13% in 10 years and 95% by mid-century. With this significant change on the horizon, little academic interest has focused on the value of assets at age of death in Australia. In this report, we utilise the National Transfer Account (NTA) methodology to examine the per capita and aggregate (ie, economy wide) value of net assets available at age of death in Australia for the years 2003-04 and 2009-10. We take a substantial step in the development of a wealth transfer account within the National Transfer Account methodology by providing a procedure to estimate economy wide levels of assets and liabilities. We show that the assets available at age of death in Australia are very significant: between 60 and 70 billion Australian dollars in 2003-04 and 2009-10. The majority of the asset value was tied up in property, with about three quarters of total average assets held in property by those dying at ages 65 and over. Using simulations, we also illustrate, that relative to the past, assets are now transferred much later in life because of the extended delay of death. We conclude with a discussion about government policies that target elder abuse, and policies that constrain desired familial transfers.
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