As Millionaires Multiply Globally, So Does the Income Gap
Life + Money

As Millionaires Multiply Globally, So Does the Income Gap


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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