December 5, 2006

Global wealth gap widens

The richest two per cent of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth, according to a study released on Tuesday.
In 2000 the richest one per cent of adults owned 40 per cent of global wealth, a report by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) said.
Its comprehensive study of personal wealth has revealed that the richest 10 per cent of adults accounted for 85 per cent of the total global assets. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely one per cent of global wealth.

From Reuters:<blockquote>Two percent of adults have more than half of the world's wealth, including property and financial assets, according to a study by the U.N. development research institute published on Tuesday.

While global income is distributed unequally, the spread of wealth is even more skewed, the study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the U.N. University said.

"Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe and high income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90 percent of total world wealth," the survey showed.

The Helsinki-based institute said its study was the first global research on the topic, for which there is only limited data.

"We've estimated that the richest 2 percent of adults own more than half of global wealth, while the bottom half own 1 percent," said institute director Anthony Shorrocks.

He likened the situation to that where, in a group of 10 people, one person has $99, while the remaining nine share $1.
Interestingly, out of all the press reports on this study, I could only find one US newspaper or media outlet who reported on it, the Houston Chronicle.

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