Home > Plutonomy > The global wealth pyramid

The global wealth pyramid

from David Ruccio

The unequal distribution of global wealth by individuals (not countries) should give us pause. Even the Wall Street Journal is impressed:

Here’s another stat that the Occupy Wall Streeters can hoist on their placards: The world’s millionaires and billionaires now control 38.5% of the world’s wealth.

How do we know? Because Credit Suisse has just published the second edition of its Global Wealth Report, in which they calculate the distribution of the world’s total wealth.

As readers can see above, the figures for mid-2011 indicate that 29.7 million adults, about 1/2 of one percent of the world’s population, own more than one third of global household wealth. Of this group, they estimate that 85,000 individuals are worth more than $50 million, 29,000 are worth more than $100 million, and 2,700 have assets above $500 million. Compare this to the bottom of the pyramid: 3.054 billion people, 67.6 percent of the world’s population, with assets of less than $10,000, who own a mere 3.3 percent of the world’s wealth. Add another billion people with assets between $10,000 and $100,000 and we have 91.2 percent of the world’s population that owns something on the order of 17.8 percent of total world wealth.

Clearly, global capitalism has enriched a tiny minority while leaving the vast majority at the bottom of the global wealth pyramid.

  1. October 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Hm.m….Seems there are simply too many people.

    • Dave Taylor
      October 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      Hm.m. It seems everyone would be remarkably well off if the surplus assets of the top 1% were given back to the communities defrauded of them.

  2. Jerry Grand
    October 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Time for a reform isnt?

  3. October 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Importante información

  4. Susana Martín Belmonte
    October 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Really good information. Only that, I’m missing about 1,5 billion people in the world population. I think we hitted 7 billion a few weeks ago, but according to this distribution, there are 4.52 billion people in the world. Am I wrong or this must have been a while ago? or maybe there is a typo somewhere…

    • May 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

      4.52 billion adults. It specifies in the graph that it is about adults :)

  5. Susana Martín Belmonte
    October 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Sorry, now I realise. It’s only adults. Forget my previous post… Thanks for the chart again. Really good!

  6. Mohomm
    October 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    u should add <1,000 and <100; many people there

  7. joop
    October 31, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    It’s interesting to realize this, the 80-20 principle revisited.
    And reading the text gives the impression that this distribution is a bad thing.

    The writer doesn’t say it, but Is the writer is implying that capitalism is a bad thing, because of this kind of distribution?
    Well, so far we live in a world where there’s a mix of governments, governmental organisations and free markets or capitalism. So, why is he blaiming capitalism and implicitly assuming that the governments have nothing to do with it? I mean, where’s the proof that it’s the capitalist/free market part of our society that has caused this and not the government part, or a mix of both?

    Furthermore, we have to realize that this kind of distribution might seem unfair, but it has also helped to continue developing our society and moving forward. More and more people are richer than before and leading a better life and this kind of distribution is the other side of the same coin. We can not have both progress in standards of living and an equal distribution of money.

  8. August 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm
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