Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And We Complain

HELSINKI, Dec 5, 2006 (AFP) - The world's richest two percent of adults own more than half of global household wealth, while half the world's population own only one percent, a UN report published on Tuesday showed.

"The study finds wealth to be more unequally distributed than income across countries," Anthony Shorrocks, director of the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) that published the report, said at a press conference.

The report, entitled "The World Distribution of Household Wealth", found that assets of 2,200 dollars (1,650 euros) or more placed a household in the top half of world wealth distribution in 2000.

To be among the most affluent 10 percent of adults required 61,000 dollars in assets, while more than 500,000 dollars was needed to belong to the richest one percent. This group of the most well off was made up of 37 million people.

The study said it was the first of its kind to include major components of household wealth, including financial assets and debts, land, buildings and other tangible property, and to cover all the world's countries.

The report did not measure income, in the form of salaries, pensions and benefit payments.

A quarter of the world's wealthiest 10 percent of adults lived in the United States while a fifth resided in Japan, the study showed.

Eight percent of the world's wealthiest 10 percent of adults lived in Germany, seven percent in Italy, six percent in Britain and four percent each in France and Spain.
The concentration of wealth within countries was also found to vary significantly.
"The share of the top 10 percent (of wealth) ranges from around 40 percent in China to 70 percent in the United States, and higher still in other countries," the report authors said.

In 2000, the year data for the survey was collected, there were 499 dollar-billionaires and 13 million millionaires throughout the world. These numbers were set to "rise fast in the next decade," the report said.

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