As Millionaires Multiply Globally, So Does the Income Gap
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The Fiscal Times
June 21, 2014

The rich just keep getting richer. Shocking!

Nearly 2 million people became millionaires last year, pushing the number of millionaires globally to a record 13.7 million. A report from consultant Capgemini and the Royal Bank of Canada, based on a survey of over 4,500 people in 23 countries, put the combined net worth of millionaires at $53 trillion in 2013, an increase of 14 percent from 2012.

Related: Finally! Big Investors Declare War on Big Banks

Rising home markets and stock prices have helped line the pockets of the rich: Most of the world’s stock wealth belongs to the wealthy. In the U.S., 80 percent of stock is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of households – so it’s likely no surprise that the U.S. leads the world pack with a total of 4 million millionaires, a number that rose by 570,000, or 17 percent, in 2013.

The gap between the rich and poor, however, puts these numbers in perspective. A study by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at University of California, Berkeley, says that incomes in the U.S. for the highest-earning 1 percent increased 31 percent between 2009 and 2012. For those outside of this lucky bracket – that would be the vast majority of the country – income increased an average of 0.4 percent, after adjusting for inflation. 

Interestingly, the way Americans view the poor has taken a notable turn. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates that a growing portion of Americans say that “poverty is caused by circumstances beyond individual control.”

Two decades ago, a majority of respondents in the same poll said poverty was caused by “people not doing enough.” 

Either way, the super-rich are still a tiny piece of America’s fifty-state puzzle.

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Reilly Dowd is a senior writer at The Fiscal Times. Based in Washington, D.C., she covers national politics, economic policy, technology, and elections. She has previously worked at Al Jazeera America, SnagFilms, ABC News, CNN and in the Obama White House.