Where does the ultra-rich population of the world live today?

Where does the ultra-rich population of the world live today?

The pandemic, geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions have thrown the world into disarray in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the world’s ultra-wealthy population from growing at a rapid pace.

New data from this year’s Wealth Report by Knight Frank shows the number of Ultra High Net Worth (UHNWI) people has increased 9.3% between 2020 and 2021. Almost all regions saw an increase in the number of ultra-rich people during the period.

The visualization above from the report explores the global distribution of the wealthiest people. Below, we’ll also look at how populations are expected to grow in the future.

The ultra-rich of the world, by region

UHNWIs are defined as having net assets of $30 million or more, including their primary residence.

With over 230,000 UHNWI in 2021, North America has the largest subset in the world, followed by Asia with nearly 170,000. Over the past year, the ultra-wealthy population has increased 12.2% and 7.2% in these regions, respectively.

Region UHNWI (2021) Change (2020-2021)
North America 233,590 12.2%
Asia 169,889 7.2%
Europe 154,008 7.4%
Australasia 24,245 9.8%
Latin America 10,337 7.6%
Middle East 9,717 8.8%
Russia & CIS* 6,542 11.2%
Africa 2,240 -0.8%
World 610 569 9.3%

*Commonwealth of Independent States

After North America and Asia, it’s Europe. In 2021, the top countries for the ultra-rich were France (30,000), Germany (28,000), the UK (25,000) and Italy (17,000). Per capita, Monaco is the highest in the world, at five people per thousand inhabitants.

Interestingly, the ultra-rich in Russia and the CIS (6,500) experienced the second fastest growth across all regions, at 11.2%. The rebound in oil prices, house prices and stock market valuations likely supported this growth. However, the crippling sanctions and economic fallout resulting from the invasion of Ukraine could significantly damage the wealth of the oligarchs for many years to come.

Rapid growth

How will UHNWI populations evolve over the next five years?

Globally, the number of ultra-rich is set to skyrocket 28% by 2026. (Still, it’s worth noting that growth between 2016 and 2021 was almost three times that rate, at over 75%).

Asia is expected to have the highest growth rate, along with Australasia. In five years, UHNWI should increase 33% in both regions. Singapore is set to see its ultra-rich population grow 268%while the ultra-rich living in mainland China are expected to increase 42%.

Meanwhile, North America should see 28% growth, reaching a total of 300,000 UHNWIs by 2026.

Significant growth is also expected throughout Latin America. In a context of galloping hyperinflation, Argentina should experience a 38% the expansion of its ultra-rich population.

In the wings

What is fueling this growth of UHNWIs around the world?

According to Knight Frank, exorbitant asset prices and a housing boom are the two driving forces behind this trend. Ultra-low interest rates, which have fallen during the pandemic, are another.

Given cheap borrowing costs, the ultra-rich have more ways to build wealth, for example by buying more goods or investing in financial assets. In fact, the average UHNWI has 2.9 properties.

It should be noted that strong GDP projections often underlie wealth projections. The IMF expects a post-pandemic recovery to be robust. However, the crisis in Ukraine could pose significant risks for the global economy, particularly for inflation and financial markets.

For example, Russia contributes 12% of the world’s oil supply, a key driver of inflation. At the same time, Ukraine provides 90% American neon, a critical material used in the semiconductor industry, which could further exacerbate supply chain issues.

About Sharon Joseph

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