Global wealth has more than doubled since 2000—helping give rise to a new crop of billionaires in emerging countries like China and Russia, according to a Credit Suisse report.
Strong economic growth and rising population levels in emerging nations helped drive global wealth to a new all-time high of $241 trillion dollars. And while average wealth per adult also hit a new peak of $51,600, the gap between the world's wealthiest and poorest citizens continues to widen.
Today, the bottom half of the global population owns less than 1 percent of total wealth. The richest 10 percent holds 86 percent of the world's wealth. The top 1 percent—meaning those ultra-high-net-worth individuals with fortunes in excess of $50 million—own 46 percent of all global assets, according to Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report.
There are 98,700 ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNW) in the world. North America dominates in this category with 48,000, or 49 percent, of the world's UHNW individuals. Europe came in second with nearly 25,000 of those individuals.
Among individual countries, the United States leads by a huge margin with 45,650 UHNW individuals.
Emerging nations are adding millionaires and billionaires too—and at an accelerated pace. China now has 5,830 ultra high-net-worth individuals, making up 5.9 percent of the global total. Only the United States has more—and considerably more at that—ultra wealthy citizens.
Where Billionaires are Popping Up
The United States has far and away the most billionaires with 442, according to Forbes. And while some other developed nations have added billionaires, the biggest shift is occurring in emerging nations.
The number of billionaires in so-called BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—has risen from 5 percent of the world's total in 2000 to 19 percent in 2010. China has seen the biggest leap in the number of billionaires, increasing from two to 64 between 2005 and 2010, the report says.
Russia has the highest level of wealth inequality in the world—apart from small Caribbean nations with resident billionaires—with 35 percent of the country's entire wealth in the hands of 110 people (as of mid-2013, the report says.
While China and Russia add billionaires, developed nations such as France, Italy and Japan are losing them.
Graphics: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report
Thumbnail photo: Flickr user Brooks Elliott