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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Estimate of Wealth from Probate Returns

Estimate of Wealth from Probate Returns.

Years. Amonut sworn to. Total number of deaths. Average left by each Person. Total Wealth.
New Zealand.
1882-86 £ 6,366,736 29,718 £214 £119,305,000
1872-76 11,699,757 63,402 185 143,569,620
1877-81 13,732,848 61,552 223 186,578,971
1882-86 21,175,139 69,461 305 285,527,885
New South Wales.
1882-86 22,351,858 69,154 323 316,927,600
The United Kingdom.
1882-88 866,484,000 3,453,153 250 9,135,122,250

It will be noticed that the probate returns give us £214 a head, a larger amount of wealth than the property tax returns do. This is only what might be expected from what we have seen of the errors likely to arise from the former method of estimating our wealth; and I feel convinced that the probate returns themselves give us a result that is lower than the reality. For purposes of comparison, however, the probate returns are excellent, and the comparison shows us that this young country is not so very much poorer than the richest of old countries—the United Kingdom. The capital with which we are working is, then, ample—instead of being very poor, we are really very rich. It is true that we are far from as rich as Victoria or New South Wales; but one very hopeful point crops up in the comparison:—Twelve years ago Victoria was not so rich per head as we are now, though her population was considerably greater and her resources probably better developed; her great advance has been made in the last 12 years. The figures in this case are one of the most striking instances of progress that I have ever seen in print, but the progress of Victoria seems to have been actually exceeded by that of New South Wales, where, if the returns are correct, the average wealth per head rose from £184 in the quinquennium 1877-81 to £323 in that of 1882-86. If we are page 3 likely to follow in the steps of these sister colonies our prospects are certainly very good. Whether we are likely to do so depends upon our production, which we will now examine.