- Exchange rate fluctuations are often the source of sizable gains and losses in wealth valued in US dollars. On average in 2021, countries depreciated against the US dollar by 2.9%. Among the countries covered in Figure 3, Japan (–9.3%) and the Eurozone (–7.7%) experienced the largest declines.
- Significant rises in GDP combined with vigorous equity and housing markets is highly likely to produce sizable wealth gains at the country level, and this was certainly the case in 2021. The United States added USD 19.5 trillion to its stock of household wealth. This is well above the second-place contribution of China (USD 11.2 trillion), which in turn far exceeds the rises recorded in Canada (USD 1.8 trillion), India (USD 1.5 trillion) and Australia (USD 1.4 trillion). In 2022, asset prices have fallen already and a tempering or partial reversal of the 2021 trend can be expected.
Wealth distribution 2021
The wealth share of the global top 1% rose for a second year running to reach 45.6% in 2021, up from 43.9% in 2019. US dollar millionaires gained 5.2 million extra members during 2021 and totaled 62.5 million worldwide at the year end. This 9% growth was slightly above the 8.4% increase recorded for wealth per adult, but fell short of the 9.5% rise in median wealth. The number of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals expanded at a much faster rate, adding 21% new members in 2021. The United States (30,470) was the country that gained the most UNHW members, followed by China (5,200). UHNW membership also increased by more than a thousand in Germany (1,750), Canada (1,610) and Australia (1,350). Reductions in UHNW individuals were relatively uncommon. The biggest falls occurred in Switzerland (down 120), Hong Kong SAR (down 130), Turkey (down 330) and the United Kingdom (down 1,130).
An analysis of median wealth within countries and across the world shows that global wealth inequality has fallen this century due to faster growth achieved in emerging markets. Global median wealth has risen roughly twice as fast as global wealth per adult and much more rapidly than global GDP. The average household has thus been able to build up wealth over the last two decades.
Worldwide inflation and the Russia-Ukraine war are likely to hamper real wealth creation over the next few years. Nevertheless, global wealth in nominal US dollars is expected to increase by USD 169 trillion by 2026, a rise of 36%. Low and middle-income countries currently account for 24% of wealth, but will be responsible for 42% of wealth growth over the next five years. Middle-income countries will be the primary driver of global trends. Global wealth per adult is forecast to rise 28% by 2026 and to pass the threshold of USD 100,000 in 2024. The number of millionaires will also grow markedly over the next five years to 87 million, while the number of UHNWIs will reach 385,000.
Axel Lehmann, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Group AG and Chair of the Credit Suisse Research Institute, said: “We are very proud to present the thirteenth edition of our Global Wealth Report. As a leading wealth manager, it is a prerequisite for us to have a deep understanding of private wealth developments and share these with our stakeholders to help them navigate the future. As inflation is dominating the current investment discourse, this year’s study offers an additional assessment of real as opposed to nominal wealth trends to take account of the effect of inflation on global wealth.”
Anthony Shorrocks, economist and report author, said: “On a country basis, the United States added the most household wealth in 2021, followed by China, Canada, India and Australia. Wealth losses were less common and almost always associated with currency depreciation against the US dollar. Analysis of median wealth within countries and across the world shows that global wealth inequality has fallen this century due to faster growth achieved in emerging markets. The average household has thus been able to build up wealth over the last two decades.”
Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe, Chief Investment Officer for the EMEA region and Global Head of Economics & Research at Credit Suisse, said: “While some reversal of the exceptional wealth gains of 2021 is likely in 2022/2023 as several countries face slower growth or even recession, our five-year outlook is for wealth to continue growing. Higher inflation also yields higher forecast values for global wealth when expressed in current US dollars rather than real US dollars. Our forecast is that, by 2024, global wealth per adult should pass the USD 100,000 threshold and that the number of millionaires will exceed 87 million individuals over the next five years.”
The Global Wealth Report 2022 is available at: www.credit-suisse.com/researchinstitute