MOST people would describe a dollar millionaire as rich, yet many millionaires would disagree. They do not compare themselves with teachers or shop assistants but with the other parents at their children’s private schools. To count the number of rich people in the world, however, an arbitrary cut-off point is needed, and $1m is as good as any. Capgemini, a consultancy, defines anyone with investable assets of $1m or more (excluding their home) as a “high-net-worth individual”, consultant-speak for rich. By this conservative measure the planet has about 10m millionaires, according to Capgemini and Merrill Lynch, a bank.
Credit Suisse, another bank, uses a less stringent (and more obvious) definition: a millionaire is anyone whose net assets exceed $1m. That includes everything: a home, an art collection, even the value of an as-yet-inaccessible pension scheme. The Credit Suisse “Global Wealth Report” estimates that there were 24.2m such people in mid-2010, about 0.5% of the world’s adult population. By this measure, there are more millionaires than there are Australians. They control $69.2 trillion in assets, more than a third of the global total. Some 41% of them live in the United States, 10% in Japan and 3% in China.
How did these people grow rich? Mostly through their own efforts. Only 16% of high-net-worth individuals inherited their stash, according to Capgemini. The most common way to get rich is to start a business: nearly half (47%) of the world’s wealthy people are entrepreneurs.
Read the full report at The Economist.