1% of world’s population own half its total wealth, Credit Suisse study shows
The globe’s richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, according to a report highlighting the growing gap between the super-rich and everyone else.
The richest have seen their share of the globe’s total wealth increase from 42.5% at the height of the 2008 financial crisis to 50.1% in 2017, or $140tn (£106tn), according to Credit Suisse’s global wealth report, published yesterday.
“The share of the top 1% has been on an upward path ever since [the crisis], passing the 2000 level in 2013 and achieving new peaks every year thereafter,” the annual report said.
The increase in wealth among the already very rich led to the creation of 2.3 million new dollar millionaires over the past year, taking the total to 36 million.
“The number of millionaires, which fell in 2008, recovered fast after the financial crisis, and is now nearly three times the 2000 figure,” Credit Suisse said.
These millionaires – who account for 0.7% of the world’s adult population – control 46% of total global wealth that now stands at $280tn. At the other end of the spectrum, the world’s 3.5 billion poorest adults each have assets of less than $10,000 (£7,600). Collectively these people, who account for 70% of the world’s working-age population, account for just 2.7% of global wealth.
The report said the poor were mostly found in developing countries, with more than 90% of adults in India and Africa having less than $10,000.
Meanwhile, at the top of what Credit Suisse calls the “global wealth pyramid”, the 36 million people with at least $1m of wealth are collectively worth $128.7tn. More than two-fifths of the world’s millionaires live in the US, followed by Japan with 7% and the UK with 6%.
However, the collapse in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote meant the total number of dollar millionaires in the UK fell by 34,000 to 2.19 million. Just over half of the UK’s 51 million adults have wealth in excess of $100,000. The mean average wealth of a UK adult is $278,038, but the median is $102,641.
While the global population of millionaires has grown considerably, the number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) – those with a net worth of $50m or more – has increased even faster. “The number of millionaires has increased by 170% [since 2000], while the number of UHNWIs has risen fivefold, making them by far the fastest-growing group of wealth-holders,” the report said.
The biggest losers, the it said, were young people, who should not expect to become as rich as their parents.
Oxfam said Credit Suisse’s research showed that politicians needed to do more to tackle the “huge gulf between the haves and the have-nots”.
“In the UK, the wealthiest 1% have seen their share increase to nearly a quarter of all the country’s wealth, while the poorest half have less than 5%,” said Oxfam’s head of advocacy, Katy Chakrabortty.
“The recent Paradise Papers revelations laid bare one of the main drivers of inequality – tax-dodging by rich individuals and multinationals. The chancellor should use next week’s budget to prioritise tough action to tackle tax avoidance to help provide funds to fight poverty in both the UK and developing countries.”