More than two million degree-holders have a net worth of £1m or more as new statistics reveal the education gap between rich and poor
One person in five who receives university education becomes a millionaire, according to official figures.
Twenty per cent of all adults who hold at least one university degree — more than two million people — now have wealth totalling at least £1 million, data from the Office for National Statistics show.
Almost a tenth of all British adults now own assets — property, pensions, savings and physical objects — worth £1 million or more.
The total number of millionaires in Britain has risen by 50 per cent in four years despite the recent financial crisis. The figures showed a stark gap in wealth between people with different levels of education. Only three per cent of people with no formal educational qualifications have assets worth more than £1 million.
The ONS report on British households’ investments, property and possessions showed that total wealth in private hands in the UK stood at £9.5 trillion in the two years from 2010 to 2012.
That is more than six times the value of all goods and services produced in the country every year, and the equivalent of almost 13 years of total government spending.
Despite the recent financial crisis, overall wealth rose in recent years, from £8.4 trillion in the two years from 2006 to 2008. The biggest increase in value came in private pension assets, which rose from £2.9 trillion to £3.6 trillion. Property was worth £3.5 trillion and physical wealth — including the contents of homes — was worth £1.1 trillion.
The figures, which do not account for household debts such as mortgages, also showed that:
– Some 11 per cent of households own property other than their main home. Such properties include both second homes used for holidays or weekends, and buy-to-let property bought as an investment.
– Seven per cent of households own a personalised car number plate.
– A quarter of all households have outstanding credit card debts.
David Willetts, the universities minister told The Telegraph that the figures were “more evidence of why going to university is a very good deal”.
The higher wealth of people with degrees justifies Coalition policies to charge higher tuition fees and push more school-leavers to go to university, he added.
“It shows why it’s fair to ask graduates to pay back the cost of their higher education, and why increasing the number of people who go to university will spread wealth and opportunity.”
But the figures also show an increasing wealth gap between rich and poor.
The richest 10 per cent of British households own 44 per cent of total household wealth, and this share has increased under the Coalition.
This group owns about five times as much as the poorest 50 per cent of the population, who between them account for just 9 per cent of overall wealth.
The increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor will form a key component of Labour’s election policy.
The party has repeatedly said that the Coalition has overseen a recovery that has helped only the rich.
The new data show that the proportion of British people who can claim to be asset millionaires has risen steadily. In 2006-08, some six per cent of households had assets worth more than £1 million. By 2010-12, that had risen to 9 per cent. At the same time, the proportion of households with assets worth less than £12,500 fell from 12 per cent to 10 per cent
The figures show that wealth tends to rise with time, at all points on the spectrum of wealth. Only six per cent of people aged 16 to 24 live in households with £1 million of assets, compared with 16 per cent of those aged 55 to 64.
Wealth then starts to fall after retirement: seven per cent of people aged 65 or over have millionaire status.
Partly because married people tend to be older than single people, marriage is also associated with millionaire status.
Some 14 per cent of married men have £1 million or more in assets, and 13 per cent of married women. That compared with six per cent of single people of both sexes, and four per cent of those who live with partners without marrying.
Married people are also much less likely to be asset poor. Only three per cent of married people have assets of less than £12,500, compared with 14 per cent of those who cohabit.
The data also underlined growing regional disparities in wealth across the UK, with London prospering far more than other areas.
Average wealth in the capital rose 31 per cent between 2006-08 and 2010-12, compared with an average across England of 11 per cent.
The gap in wealth as it relates to education has widened over time. In 2006-07, some 16 per cent of graduates were asset millionaires, compared with two per cent of people without formal qualifications.
Source: Education News