Wednesday 18 September 2019

Household wealth recovers to pre-crisis levels

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The wealth of households is now back to pre-crisis levels, the Central Bank reports.

Consumer debts have also fallen to their lowest position in more than a decade.

Net wealth has been calculated at €151,657 per head, a 13-year high.

However, economists warned that averages can be misleading - as much of the wealth is in the hands of older people who have benefited from rising property values over the past 20 years. Those in their 30s and 40s tend to be heavily indebted.

The Central Bank said that when calculated across all households, the average debt has fallen to €29,300. This is the lowest level since 2005.

Household net worth rose by 2.1pc in the last quarter of last year. Rising house prices have ensured that the net worth of households has risen. It now exceeds its pre-crisis peak.

Household net worth is calculated as the value of housing and financial assets minus what is owed.

Property prices rose by 13pc in February compared with a year ago, the fastest rate of increase in three years.

Net worth stood at €726.8bn at the end of last year. This is the equivalent of €151,657 per head.

Household net worth has risen by 69pc since its lowest level of €430bn in the second quarter of 2012, mainly due to rising housing values.

In overall terms, household debt fell by €1.37bn to €140.5bn.

Debt as a proportion of disposable income fell by 2.5 percentage points, to 136.9pc. This means consumers still owe more than they earn.

Despite the fall, households here continue to be the fourth most indebted in the European Union.

The fall in debt levels here was the largest decline among the mostly highly indebted European Union countries.

Irish Independent

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