Sunday, 3 June 2007

how rich do you think you are?


More than 80% of people who read this blog come from English-speaking, affluent, western countries. How wealthy do you think you are, in world terms?

Here are some statistics:

  • If an adult's net worth is more than $US2,200, they are financially better off than half the world's population, while $US61,000 puts you in the world's top 10% and it takes $US500,000 to put you in the top 1%. The richest 10% of the world own a massive 85% of global household wealth.
  • If a cosmic Robin Hood took from the rich and gave to the poor until everyone had the same, all of us would have assets worth $US20,500.
  • There is obviously great disparity between countries. There are two different ways to do the calculation, to make things more confusing, but the countries with the richest people were Japan, Switzerland, Luxemburg, United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Taiwan rates higher than both Australia and Canada. At the other end of the scale, household wealth in India, China and many African countries is only a few percent, or less, of the levels in the richest countries.
  • More than 60% of the world's richest households (upper 1%) are in either Europe or the US, with most of the rest in Japan, Singapore or Korea.
  • The average person in the top 10% is 3000 times richer than the average person in the bottom 10%, and the average person in the top 1% is 13,000 times richer!
  • There is disparity within most countries as well, with the richest 10% of adults owning 70% of the total wealth in the US. The figures for other countries generally lie in the range 40%-60%.

If I interpret the figures correctly, a couple owning their own house in Sydney Australia would likely be included in the world's top 2%. And I would guess almost everyone who reads this is richer than almost everyone who doesn't.

If this concerns you, you may wish to read up on the Jubilee debt campaign to cut third world debt and make poverty history.

This information is contained in report released late last year by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University. Read the report or (simpler) a press release summary.


  1. Thanks heaps! That's a great site and very simple too. I wasn't aware of it before.

    If anyone wants to follow up and do something, here's a page of links to useful organisations.


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