Global population has reached 7.4 billion people. Of this population, the top 1% owns more of the world’s assets than the bottom 99 percent combined.
“Of the estimated $250 trillion in global assets, the top 1 percent owned almost exactly 50 percent, while the bottom 50 percent of humanity owned collectively less than 1 percent. The richest 10 percent owned 87.7 percent of the world’s wealth, leaving 12.3 percent for the bottom 90 percent of the population.” The top 1% is divided even further: “29.8 million with assets of $1 million to $5 million; 2.5 million with assets of $5 million to $10 million; 1.34 million with assets of $10 million to $50 million; and finally, 123,800 with assets over $50 million” (ICFI).
So where do all these ultra-high-net-individuals live? And what are the implications of the deepening global economic inequality? The chart below displays the number of billionaires per country- The United States holds 540 of the world’s billionaires, followed by China with 251. The next largest portions are scattered throughout Europe, and also, India.
The concentration of billionaires, and their wealth, in certain countries helps explain why the rich continue to get richer, while the poor get poorer and poorer. It also helps explains why some countries, like China, are gaining wealth faster than others as the world continues to globalize. The large wealth disparities between countries, much like growing social disparities within countries, are of major significance for world politics, international relations and conflicts between world super powers like the United States, China, Germany, and France.
The growing economic and social inequities that arise from this unequal distribution of wealth is of extreme significance for government leaders and policy makers. What would happen if half of the billionaires in the United States chose to live elsewhere? How might this affect their domestic, but also, the global economy? Will the increasing connectivity of our world ease or promote global economic tensions? These questions are hard to predict but are important to consider.
Written by Kathleen Emerson (4/6/2016).