Richest one per cent owns more than half the world's wealth

Global wealth reached $250 trillion in 2015

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The Independent Online

A stark report highlighting the gross inequality between the world's richest and poorest has revealed the top 1 per cent of the global population now holds half its wealth.

The Credit Suisse Wealth Report found that the bottom half of adults owned less than one per cent of world's total wealth while the richest 10 per cent held 87.7 per cent of it.

To be in the wealthiest half of the world’s adult population, Credit Suisse calculated an individual would need $3,210. To be in the richest 10 per cent, they would need $68,800.

And to be classified among the world's elite 1 per cent, they would require $759,900.

The report, which examined wealth in more than 200 countries, also revealed that for the first time, the middle class in China - with 109 million adults - become the world’s largest, overtaking the US which has 92 million adults in the same category.

Overall, 664 million adults made up the global middle class, accounting for about 14 per cent of the population.


The global adult middle class population

But the report highlighted that wealth inequality had widened in the 12 months to mid-2015.

Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam said: “While the distribution of wealth is skewed towards the wealthy, the considerable economic importance of the base and middle sections (of the wealth pyramid) should not be overlooked. Together, they account for 39 trillion US dollars in wealth, driving a significant part of demand for a wide range of consumer goods and financial services.”

According to the base pyramid, 71 per cent of the population had less than $10,000, 21 per cent had between £10,000 to £100,000 and 7.4 per cent had between $100,000 and $1 million. At the top of the pyramid, 0.7 per cent of the population had more than $1 million.

But Mark Goldring, Oxfam UK's chief executive said: “This is the latest evidence that extreme inequality is out of control. Are we really happy to live in a world where the top 1% own half the wealth and the poorest half own just 1%?”

He added that world leaders needed to urgently tackle the problem of inequality.

"Eyebrows were raised when earlier this year Oxfam predicted that the richest one per cent would own more than the rest of us by 2016. The fact it has happened a year early - just weeks after world leaders agreed a global goal to reduce inequality - shows just how urgently world leaders need to tackle this problem," said Mr Goldring.

With 2.4 million US dollar millionaires and just over half of the adult population having wealth exceeding $100,000, the UK held four per cent of the world’s wealth, behind China at 16 per cent and the US at 12 per cent, acccording to the report.

“Wealth is (nevertheless) still predominantly concentrated in Europe and the United States. However, the growth of wealth in emerging markets has been most impressive, including a fivefold rise in China since the beginning of the century,” said Mr Thiam.

Global wealth reached $250 trillion in 2015, but this was a decrease of $12.4 trillion from the previous year – the first decline since the economic crash was down to "adverse exchange rate movements".

The report predicted that global wealth would continue to grow at a rate of 6.5 per cent and reach $345 trillion by 2020 – a 38 per cent increase on the current level of wealth.

Emerging economies were believed to be the main driver behind continuing wealth growth, with China and India expected to grow by nine per cent annually.