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Global wealth rises by $20 trillion

Western countries are still home to the world’s wealthiest people, but developing nations are quickly catching them up.

Western countries are still home to the world’s wealthiest people, but developing nations are quickly catching them up.

The latest edition of Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report finds that despite its current woes Europe has overtaken North America as the region with the most millionaires, with 37.2% of the total compared to North America’s 37%. Japan has 11%, while China has 3.4%. The number of Chinese millionaires has topped a million for the first time.

The report estimates that there are 84,700 ultra-high net worth individuals, classed as people with net assets exceeding $50 million ($36 million). Of these, 29,000 have assets of $100 million and 2,700 have more than $500 million. The largest number of UHNWs live in the US - 35,400, or 42% of the total. This is followed by China with 5,400 (6.4%), Germany with 4,135 (4.9%), Switzerland with 3,820 (4.5%) and Japan with 3,400 (4%).

According to the report, the rich are getting richer. The 29.7 million people whose wealth surpasses $1 million own 38.5% of the world’s wealth, a figure that has risen from 35.6% in 2010. In dollar terms, their wealth has risen by $20 trillion to $89 trillion in a year.

The number of wealthy people in developing nations is increasing rapidly. Of the BRIC countries, there are now 1,970 people in Russia with over $50 million, 1,840 in India and 1,520 in Brazil. Credit Suisse estimates that the number of millionaires in developing nations will rise quickly in the next five years, by 134% in China, 155% in Brazil, 197% in Egypt and 242% in South Africa. It predicts that India and Brazil’s combined wealth will double in the same time.

Despite the global economic slowdown, the world’s total wealth increased 14% between January 2010 and June 2011, from $203 trillion to $231 trillion. In the next five years, global wealth is expected to rise by 50% to $345 trillion and wealth per adult to increase 40% to reach $70,700.