The World Distribution of Household Wealth

James B. Davies, Susanna Sandström, Anthony Shorrocks, Edward N. Wolff

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    There has been much recent research on the world distribution of income, but also growing recognition of the importance of other contributions to wellbeing, including those of household wealth. Wealth is important in providing security and opportunity, particularly in poorer countries that lack full social safety nets and adequate facilities for borrowing and lending. This chapter finds, however, that it is precisely in the latter countries that household wealth is the lowest, both in absolute and relative terms. Globally, wealth is more concentrated than income, on both an individual and a national basis. Roughly 30 per cent of world wealth is found in each of North America, Europe, and the rich Asian_Pacific countries. These areas account for virtually all world's top 1% of wealth holders. On an official exchange_rate basis, India accounts for about a quarter of the adults in the bottom three global wealth deciles, while China provides about a third of those in the fourth to eighth deciles. If current growth trends continue, India, China, and the transition countries will move up in the global distribution, and the lower deciles will be increasingly dominated by countries in Africa, Latin American, and poor parts of the Asian_Pacific region. Thus wealth may continue to be lowest in areas where it is needed the most.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationPersonal Wealth from a Global Perspective
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Electronic)9780191720765
    ISBN (Print)9780199548880
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


    • Balance sheets
    • Households
    • Net worth
    • Personal assets
    • Portfolios
    • Wealth
    • Wealth inequality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


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