L'économie française - Insee Références - Édition 2012
Disparities between households in the national accounts : from saving to wealth
The households account published in the national accounts gives an exhaustive presentation of the income, consumption and wealth of households, but does not provide information about the disparities that exist between them. Further to initial work on income and consumption inequalities in the national accounts published three years ago, this report presents new results, this time focused on wealth. These results are derived from a comparison between the wealth account in the national accounts and the survey data collected on this theme on a sample of households in 2003. Households whose reference person is aged 60 or over have ten times more wealth on average than households aged under 30: the current savings level, resulting from the accumulation of past savings, largely explains this difference. Active or retired self-employed people own 30% of household wealth, i.e. twice as much as their weight within the population. This stems from their need to build professional assets and probably also reveals specific wealth management strategies, partly linked to the anticipation of the income drop at the moment of retirement. Households in the top standard of living quintile have 40% of gross disposable income, 75% of savings generated over a year, and 50% of wealth. This shows that at any given moment, the dispersion of wealth only partially reflects the inequalities in income and in savings. In particular, young well-off households may be in the process of building their wealth, while conversely, more elderly households may have accumulated extensive wealth without necessarily having income that is as high as their fortune. Additionally, the level of wealth partly comes from inheritances and donations. Since it satisfies aspirations to become a homeowner, dwelling is the biggest asset in the wealth of many households and is one of the main causes of indebtedness.