Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The rich get richer

News in this morning's Globe about how the richest 2% of people in the world own more than half of the world's assets doesn't really come as much of a surprise to me, although some of the specific numbers did give me pause.

In the world's first ever exhaustive survey on the subject, the UN found that the gap between the super-rich and the desperately poor is indeed widening at an astonishing rate. Compared to their elite counterparts, for example, the poorest 50% of the world's population control less than 1% of the world's wealth. And the gulf has widened sharply over the last 50 years.

Some other findings:

  • Assets of $2,200 (U.S., I presume) would place you among top half of the world's wealth distribution
  • Assets of $61,000 would place you in the top 1%. That's just an astoundingly low threshold to me. Essentially, if you have a net worth of $61,000, you're among the richest 1% of people on earth
  • The vast majority of the super-wealthy live in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim.

Still wondering how you stack up? Check out this interactive How Rich are You? calculator to see where you rank among the world's wealthiest. It certainly provided some sobering food for thought to me this holiday season. Brings my little petty obsession with my own net worth calculator really into perspective.

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