The growing gulf between the world’s poorest people and the richest has caused tremendous debates about why anyone show have billions of dollars which tens of millions of people do have not enough to eat. The richest 10% of the world’s population control 76% of the wealth. The poorest 50% control 2% by the same measure. Forbes recently reported that the world has 2,755 billionaires. That is up by 660 people from the year before. This means that someone became a billionaire every 17 hours over the period.
According to WID.world’s 2022 World Inequity Report, on average, an individual adult in the poorest half of the world’s population makes $3,920 a year, compared to $122,100 per year an adult in the top 10% makes. In terms of wealth, on average, an individual adult in the poorest half of the population owns $4,100, while an individual at the top 10% owns $771,300 – or 188 times the wealth of an average individual in the bottom half.
While wealth inequality was significantly reduced in Western countries throughout much of the 20th century, inequalities have been on the rise nearly everywhere since the 1980s. The top 1% captured 38% of all additional wealth accumulated since the mid-1990s, compared to 2% captured by the bottom half.
To find the country with the worst wealth inequality, 24/7 Wall St. used iwealth inequality data from WID.world’s (World Inequality Database) 2022 World Inequality Report. In some countries, the bottom 50% have zero or even negative net wealth. For this reason, in consultation with wealth aggregates coordinator at WID, Luis Bauluz, we ranked countries by the wealth gap as measured by the ratio of the top 10% share of wealth to the bottom 90% share of wealth. We provided the top 10% to bottom 50% when applicable.
In Lebanon, the wealth gap between the top 10% and bottom 50% stands at more than 2,800 times. The top 10% hold 79% of the wealth, while the bottom 50% hold a scant 0.14%. Lebanon’s GNI per capita is $11,840.
South Africa has the worst wealth gap between the top 10% and the bottom 90%, at nearly 54. While the share of household wealth the top 10% capture stands at nearly 86%, the highest of countries considered, the share of household wealth the bottom 50% capture is negative, at -2.44%, the second lowest of countries considered.
Many of the countries we looked at are poor, though not all, with the U.S. a notable exception, along with several countries in Asia and the Middle East. The U.S. GNI per capita is ninth highest of countries considered, at $64,610.
Here are the details about South Africa:
> Wealth gap, top 10% / bottom 90%: 53.77
> Wealth gap, top 10% / bottom 50%: N/A
> Share of household wealth top 10%: 85.67% — #1 highest of 174 countries
> Share of household wealth mid 40%: 16.78% — #1 lowest of 174 countries
> Share of household wealth bottom 50%: -2.44% — #2 lowest of 174 countries
> GNI per capita, 2020: $13,130 — #78 lowest of 156 countries
Methodology: To find the country with the worst wealth inequality, 24/7 Wall St. used income, wealth, and inequality data from WID.world’s (World Inequality Database) 2022 World Inequality Report. Because in some countries, the bottom 50% have zero or even negative net wealth, we ranked countries by the wealth gap as measured by the ratio of the top 10% share of wealth to the bottom 90% share of wealth. We provided the top 10% to bottom 50% when applicable. All 174 countries in the report are included. Data is as of 2021.
The report measures wealth inequality using the distribution of net household wealth among adults, whereas net household wealth is the sum of financial assets and non-financial assets owned by individuals, net of their debts. The report uses purchasing power parity estimates correct for inflation using the national income deflator (base 2021). The population is of individuals over age 20.
Data on how much wealth the top 10%, mid 40%, and bottom 50% capture also came from the report. Data on gross national income per capita in current international dollars using purchasing power parity method came from the World Bank.
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