Global and US wealth concentration stats

June 19, 2015


(1) "Over the last three decades, the top 1 percent’s share of the nation’s income has doubled; the top one-tenth of 1 percent’s share, tripled. The richest one-tenth of 1 percent is now earning as much as the bottom 120 million Americans put together."


"The richest 1 percent now own more than 35 percent of all of the nation’s household wealth, and 38 percent of the nation’s financial assets – including stocks and pension funds."


"The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together. The 6 Walmart heirs have more wealth than bottom 33 million American families combined."


(2) Definition of wealth, as used in this document: "We use the term in its long-established sense of net worth: the value of physical and financial assets less debts. In this respect, wealth represents the ownership of capital." [pg. 2]


"Using currency exchange rates, global household wealth amounted to $125 trillion in the year 2000, equivalent to roughly three times the value of total global production (GDP) or to $20,500 per person. Adjusting for differences in the cost-of-living across nations raises the value of wealth to $26,000 per capita when measured in terms of purchasing power parity dollars (PPP$)." [Appendix I, table 5]


"Average wealth amounted to $144,000 per person in the USA in year 2000, and $181,000 in Japan. Lower down among countries with wealth data are India, with per capita assets of $1,100, and Indonesia with $1,400 per capita." [pg. 12]


(3) "... across the world population of 3.7 billion adults, based on official exchange rates and figures for the year 2000 ... According to our estimates, adults required just $2,138 in order to be among the wealthiest half of the world. But more than $61,000 was needed to belong to the top 10 percent and more than $510,000 per adult was required for membership of the top 1 percent."


As of 2008-- "The richest 2 percent of adult individuals own more than half of all global wealth, with the richest 1 percent alone accounting for 40 percent of global assets. The corresponding figures for the top 5 per cent and the top 10 percent are 71 percent and 85 percent, respectively. In contrast, the bottom half of wealth holders together hold barely 1 percent of global wealth. Members of the top decile are almost 400 times richer, on average, than the bottom 50 per cent, and members of the top percentile are almost 2,000 times richer." [pg. 7]


Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe, and high income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90% of total world wealth. [figure 2, pg. 12]


The concentration of wealth within countries varies significantly but is generally high. The share of the top 10% ranges from around 40% in China to 70% in the United States, and higher still in other countries. [Table I, pg. 4]

"The global wealth Gini is estimated to be even greater at 0.892. This is equivalent to the Gini value that would be registered for a 100-person population in which one person receives $900 and the remaining 99 people each receive $1." [pg.7]


(1) Reich, Robert. "The Myth of Living Beyond Our Means. Portside. Jan. 24, 2013.
(2) James B. Davies et al. "The World Distribution of Household Wealth. United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research. Dec. 5, 2006.
(3) James B. Davies et al. "The World Distribution of Household Wealth. United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research. Feb. 2008.


[verified 4/17/14]

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