Where the millionaires and billionaires live: Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse have published their Global Wealth Report for 2019. It’s their 10th such report, marking a decade now of tracking global wealth.

The report makes for interesting reading as always. Perhaps not as interesting as the first of these reports I read – the wealth spread numbers are startling when you first see them but don’t change enormously year on year. If this is your first exposure to the report, you may find some of the numbers contained within surprising.

The first number you’ll need to get your head around is USD 360.6 trillion. That’s Credit Suisse’s estimate of  aggregate global wealth. How much we were all worth collectively in mid 2019. It’s a big number. Notably it’s 2.6% bigger than the figure for 2018, despite talk of global slowdowns and trade war ructions.

You may not feel richer than last year. Your slice of the pie may have decreased, which is more likely than not if you’re from Belgium, Norway or Australia.

The wealthiest countries on earth

The global wealth map doesn’t really change that much from year to year. In average per capita wealth terms, North America, Europe, and parts of Asia Pacific (Japan, Australia, New Zealand) are where wealth remains concentrated.

All images: Credit Suisse


The 10 wealthiest countries are:

  1. Switzerland (USD 564,650)
  2. Hong Kong, (USD 489,260)
  3. United States (USD 432,370)
  4. Australia
  5. New Zealand
  6. Singapore
  7. Canada
  8. Denmark
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Netherlands

In terms of median wealth (wealth midpoint, which is less effected by upper extremes), the order is a little different.

  1. Switzerland (USD 227,890)
  2. Australia (USD 181,360)
  3. Hong Kong (USD 146,890)
  4. Belgium
  5. New Zealand
  6. Japan
  7. Canada
  8. Ireland
  9. France
  10. United Kingdom

The US drops out of the top 10 entirely, highlighting significant wealth inequalities existing there.

The biggest loser from 2018 to 2019 was clearly Australia. Poor Aussies are now on average USD 30,000 worse off than they were a year ago. Falling house prices (where most of their wealth is tied up) and a depreciating Australian dollar versus the USD saw them take the biggest hit of all developed economies.

country wealth change

Where the millionaires live

There are just under 47 million millionaires in the world. Around 40% of them live in the United States. A good portion are based in Europe. China continues to grow its representation.

Switzerland has the highest concentration of millionaires. Almost 1 in every 10 residents there are worth USD 1 million or more.

number millionaires

The world minted 1.1 million new millionaires over the past year. Most countries added to their list. Some saw their list cut. Australia backward faster than everyone else in this regard, losing 124 thousand millionaires.

change in millionaires

Where the billionaires live

A picture tells a thousand words; or many millions of words as the case may be.

The United States remains home to the vast majority of what Credit Suisse call Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals – people worth $50 million or more.

They also dominate the pointy ends of this category, those valued at $50m plus, $500m plus and billionaires.

ultra high net worth

Wealth inequality on the decline

If you have a net worth of USD 7,087 or more, you are among the richest half of the world’s population. A net worth of USD 109,430 puts you in the top 10%. If you’re worth USD 936,430 or more you are part of the world’s wealth elite – in the top percentile.

The bottom half own less than 1% of aggregate global wealth. The top 10% own over 82% of the wealth pie.

Sounds very lop sided. But in actual fact, wealth inequality has actually been on the decline since 2016. Whether this is a temporary blip or the start of a more meaningful correction to the inequality increases seen from 2009 to 2016 (it was a rich man’s recovery from the GFC) remains to be seen.

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