Thursday, December 07, 2006

Top One Percent "far from an exclusive club"

Well, that's a relief. To be part of the top 1% of the world's asset owners, you only need $200,000. Like the Finns who wrote the report, I belong to a decimal culture, and -- armed with the knowledge that the world is on a path from being difficult for the poor to being difficult for the non-wealthy -- I'd be comforted to know I was in the "top 1 %".

The press release for the World Institute for
Development Economics Research of the United Nations University
's new study on The World Distribution of Household Wealth goes on to talk about why economic stratification is such an obsession with me: I'm an American
The concentration of wealth within countries varies significantly but is generally high. The share of the top 10% ranges from around 40% in China to 70% in the United States, and higher still in other countries.
Our stratification is worse that China's. Well, we can be comforted to think that China has a lot of poor, and there might be a fair number of them in the top 10 %.
The Gini value, which measures inequality on a scale from zero to one, gives numbers in the range from 35% to 45% for income inequality in most countries. In contrast, Gini values forwealth inequality are usually between 65% and 75%, and sometimes exceed 80%.

Two high wealth economies, Japan and the United States, show very different patterns of wealth inequality, with Japan having a wealth Gini of 55% and the USA a wealth Gini of around 80%.
Man, why are those Finns always dumping on us? Do they hate Freedom? Gini's 89 % globally, so we're marginally better than nature red in tooth and claw. Of course, we have an edge...
The authors go on to note that `many people in high-income countries have negative net worth and--somewhat paradoxically--are among the poorest people in the world in terms of household wealth.'
Ha! Take that, Japan.

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