World’s ultra-wealthy population increased by 10% in 2017

Hayley March 19, 2018

New data prepared exclusively for Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report shows that the number of ultra-wealthy people (those with net assets of US$50 million or more) rose by 10% in 2017 – taking the global population to 129,730, with a combined worth of US$26.4 trillion.

The data provided by Wealth-X highlights that the ultra-wealthy population grew at a notably more rapid rate in 2017 than in the previous five years, when there was a cumulative 18% increase. This trend in wealth creation mirrors the growing momentum of the global economy since the start of 2017. Solid forecasts for the global economy underpin the wealth specialist’s prediction that the number of individuals with net assets of US$50 million or more will have grown by a further 40% by 2022.

When look at how specific ultra-wealthy populations have fared between 2012 and 2017, the picture is mixed. While the number of people with US$50 million or more in net assets rose in North America (+31%), Asia (+37%) and Europe (+10%), there were falls in the remaining five regions, most notably in Latin America and the Caribbean (-22%) and Russia and CIS (-37%).

North America remains the world’s largest wealth region – some 34% of the world’s ultra-wealthy are based there. The country’s ultra-wealthy population increased by a further 5% last year, taking the total number to 44,000.

Europe, however, narrowly lost its second place spot to Asia, despite a 10% rise over the past year in the number of Europeans with US$50 million or more, taking its total to 35,180. A 15% rise in Asia’s ultra-wealthy cadre took its population to 35,880, according to Wealth X.

The data also showed that the number of people with $5 million or more in net assets around the world rose by 9% in 2017, with the number of ‘demi-billionaires’, those with $500m or more in net assets, climbing by 11%.
Wealth-X’s methodology for calculating looks into GDP growth, the performance of stock markets and other investments, as well as wealth distribution trends. Currency also plays a significant role. The wealth data is shown in US dollars, and, as a result, the movement of local currencies against the dollar has also had an impact.