While the number of millionaires worldwide has soared since 2000, most households have $10,000 or less in total net worth.
Apparently, it is also easier to become a millionaire, according to the recently released Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report.
The firm found that the number of global millionaires (as measured in U.S. dollars) rose 146 percent to 33.7 million adults from 13.7 million since the turn of the century. The research analysts at the firm said those millionaires “collectively control a whopping $113 trillion.” Meanwhile, the report noted that 3.4 billion people — or 71 percent of the world’s adults — “have a wealth of less than $10,000.”
“Growth in the number of millionaires is often taken as a sign of the health of an economy and reflects its ability to generate wealth at the top end,” said the researchers, adding the large growth in millionaires “reflects population growth, and the fact that inflation progressively lowers the bar for membership of the millionaire club.”
The analysts said that the number of millionaires dropped at the peak of the Great Recession, but “unlike the trend in median wealth, the number of millionaires recovered quickly after 2008, and new records were set every year from 2011 until 2014.”
By region, membership to the millionaire’s club “in North America and Asia-Pacific grew at about half the world pace, while in Europe and Africa it grew faster than average. Millionaires became five times more common in India and spectacular growth was seen in China, where the number rose more than tenfold.”
With China, overall wealth has grown fivefold since 2000, the analysts said. “The fact that financial assets accounted for most of the wealth growth in China highlights the relevance of financial markets in the creation of wealth, but also points to short-term vulnerabilities of wealth to financial shocks,” the researchers said. Stock values in China soared over 150 percent from the summer of last year through to June of this year before collapsing in August.
The diagram below shows how wealth is distributed globally.