I am not typically one to employ Biblical quotes, but the news article which follows–and, gee, it’s been so widely reported–invites this classic: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
The richest 2 percent of adults in the world own more than half the world’s wealth, according to a new study released by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University.
The study’s authors say their work is the most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken. They found the richest 1 percent of adults owned 40 percent of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10 percent of adults accounted for 85 percent of the world’s total.
In contrast, the assets of half of the world’s adult population account for barely 1 percent of global wealth.
“It reflects the extreme nature of inequality around the world,” one of the study’s authors, New York University Professor Edward Wolff, told OneWorld. “Yes, we are richer than Africa and Latin America and most of Asia, but how much richer is what hadn’t really been established until our study came out,” Wolff added.
According to the report, the average American’s wealth amounted to $144,000 in the year 2000, more than 100 times higher than the average Indian or Indonesian, whose assets totaled $1,100 and $1,400, respectively.
The study defined wealth as physical and financial assets–like personal savings and home, land, and stock ownership–less debts.
Besides the United States, only Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and Israel showed average personal wealth of more than $50,000. [full text]
Yeah, and they only hate us for our freedom.