Where Does the World’s Ultra-Wealthy Population 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 strong clip.
New data from this year’s Wealth Report by Knight Frank shows that the number of Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) grew 9.3% between 2020 and 2021. Nearly all regions saw an increase in ultra-wealthy people over the time period.
The above visualization from the report explores the global distribution of uber-affluent people. Below, we’ll also look at how the populations are projected to grow in the future.
The World’s Ultra-Wealthy, by Region
UHNWIs are defined as having net assets of $30 million or more, including their primary residence.
With over 230,000 UHNWIs in 2021, North America has the largest subset globally, followed by Asia at nearly 170,000. Over the last year, the ultra-wealthy population rose 12.2% and 7.2% across these regions, respectively.
|Region||UHNWIs (2021)||Change (2020–21)|
|Russia & CIS*||6,542||11.2%|
*Commonwealth of Independent States
Following North America and Asia is Europe. In 2021, the top countries for the ultra-wealthy were France (30,000), Germany (28,000), U.K. (25,000) and Italy (17,000). On a per capita basis, Monaco is the highest worldwide, at five people per thousand residents.
Interestingly, the ultra-rich in Russia & CIS (6,500) grew the second fastest across all regions, at 11.2%. Rebounding oil prices, property prices, and stock market valuations likely bolstered this growth. However, the crippling sanctions and economic fallout resulting from the invasion of Ukraine could substantially impair oligarch wealth for many years to come.
How will UHNWI populations change in the next five years?
Globally, the number of ultra-rich is projected to increase a staggering 28% by 2026. (Still, it’s worth noting that growth between 2016-2021 was almost three times this rate, at over 75%.)
Asia is projected to have the highest growth rate, along with Australasia. In five years, UHNWIs are set to rise 33% in both regions. Singapore is projected to see its ultra-rich population grow 268%, while the ultra-rich living in mainland China are anticipated to grow over 42%.
Meanwhile, North America is projected to see 28% growth, or reaching a total of 300,000 UHNWIs by 2026.
Significant growth is also projected across Latin America. Amid rampant hyperinflation, Argentina is estimated to see a 38% expansion in its ultra-wealthy population.
Behind the Scenes
What is fueling this growth in UHNWIs worldwide?
Sky-high asset prices and a real estate boom are two drivers behind this trend, according to Knight Frank. Ultra-low interest rates, which declined during the pandemic, is another.
Given cheap borrowing costs, the ultra-wealthy have more leverage to build their wealth, such as buying more property or investing in financial assets. In fact, the average UHNWI owns 2.9 properties.
It’s worth noting that strong GDP projections often underlie wealth projections. The IMF predicts that a post-pandemic recovery will be robust. However the crisis in Ukraine could pose meaningful risks to the global economy, especially for inflation and financial markets.
For instance, Russia contributes 12% to the global oil supply, a key factor behind inflation. At the same time, Ukraine supplies 90% of America’s neon—an essential material used in the semiconductor industry—which could further exacerbate supply chain issues.
Mapped: Personal Finance Education Requirements, by State
Only 22.7% of U.S. students are required to take a personal finance course. Which states have the highest levels of personal finance education?
The Percentage of Students Receiving Personal Finance Education
When you graduated from high school, did you know how to create a budget? Did you have an understanding of what stocks and bonds were? Did you know how to do your own taxes?
For many Americans, the answer to these questions is probably a “no”. Only 22.7% of U.S. high school students are guaranteed to receive a personal finance education. While this is up from 16.4% in 2018, this still represents a small fraction of students.
This graphic uses data from Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) to show the percentage of high school students required to take a personal finance course by state.
A Closer Look at State-level Personal Finance Education
A standalone personal finance course was defined as a course that was at least one semester, which is equivalent to 60 consecutive instructional hours. Here’s the percentage of students in each state who have a required (not optional) personal finance course.
|State/Territory||% of Students Required to Take Personal Finance Course|
Eight states currently have state-wide requirements for a personal finance course: Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. Naturally, the level of personal finance education is highest in these states.
Five states have begun the process of implementing a requirement, with Florida being the most populous state yet to guarantee personal finance education for high schoolers. The state previously required schools to offer a personal finance course as an elective, but only 5% of students took the course.
Outside of the guarantee states, only 9.3% of students are required to take a personal finance course. That number drops to 5% for schools that have a high percentage of Black or Brown students, while students eligible for a free or reduced lunch program (i.e. lower income students) also hover at the 5% number.
Why is Personal Financial Education Important?
The majority of Americans believe parents are responsible for teaching their children about personal finance. However, nearly a third of parents say they never talk to their children about finances. Personal finance education at school is one way to help fill that gap.
People who have received a financial education tend to have a higher level of financial literacy. In turn, this can lead to people being less likely to face financial difficulties.
People with low levels of financial literacy were five times more likely to be unable to cover one month of living expenses, when compared to people with high financial literacy. Separate research has found that implementing a state mandate for personal finance education led to improved credit scores and reduced delinquency rates.
Not only that, financial education can play a key role in building wealth. One survey found that only one-third of millionaires averaged a six-figure income over the course of their career. Instead of relying on high salaries, the success of most millionaires came from employing basic personal finance principles: investing early and consistently, avoiding credit card debt, and spending carefully using tools like budgets and coupons.
Expanding Access to Financial Education
Once the in-progress state requirements have been fully implemented, more than a third of U.S. high school students will have guaranteed access to a personal finance course. Momentum is expanding beyond guarantee states, too. There are 48 personal finance bills pending in 18 states according to NGPF’s financial education bill tracker.
Importantly, 88% of surveyed adults support personal finance education mandates—and most wish they had also been required to take a personal finance course themselves.
When we ask the next generation of graduates if they understand how to build a budget, it’s more likely that they will confidently say “yes”.
Charted: U.S. Consumer Debt Approaches $16 Trillion
Robust growth in mortgages has pushed U.S. consumer debt to nearly $16 trillion. Click to gain further insight into the situation.
Charted: U.S. Consumer Debt Approaches $16 Trillion
According to the Federal Reserve (Fed), U.S. consumer debt is approaching a record-breaking $16 trillion. Critically, the rate of increase in consumer debt for the fourth quarter of 2021 was also the highest seen since 2007.
This graphic provides context into the consumer debt situation using data from the end of 2021.
Housing Vs. Non-Housing Debt
The following table includes the data used in the above graphic. Housing debt covers mortgages, while non-housing debt covers auto loans, student loans, and credit card balances.
|Total Consumer Debt
Source: Federal Reserve
Trends in Housing Debt
Home prices have experienced upward pressure since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is evidenced by the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which has increased by 34% since the start of the pandemic.
Driving this growth are various pandemic-related impacts. For example, the cost of materials such as lumber have seen enormous spikes. We’ve covered this story in a previous graphic, which showed how many homes could be built with $50,000 worth of lumber. In most cases, these higher costs are passed on to the consumer.
Another key factor here is mortgage rates, which fell to all-time lows in 2020. When rates are low, consumers are able to borrow in larger quantities. This increases the demand for homes, which in turn inflates prices.
Ultimately, higher home prices translate to more mortgage debt being incurred by families.
No Need to Worry, Though
Economists believe that today’s housing debt isn’t a cause for concern. This is because the quality of borrowers is much stronger than it was between 2003 and 2007, in the years leading up to the financial crisis and subsequent housing crash.
In the chart below, subprime borrowers (those with a credit score of 620 and below) are represented by the red-shaded bars:
We can see that subprime borrowers represent very little (2%) of today’s total originations compared to the period between 2003 to 2007 (12%). This suggests that American homeowners are, on average, less likely to default on their mortgage.
Economists have also noted a decline in the household debt service ratio, which measures the percentage of disposable income that goes towards a mortgage. This is shown in the table below, along with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate.
|Year||Mortgage Payments as a % of Disposable Income||Average 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate|
Source: Federal Reserve
While it’s true that Americans are less burdened by their mortgages, we must acknowledge the decrease in mortgage rates that took place over the same period.
With the Fed now increasing rates to calm inflation, Americans could see their mortgages begin to eat up a larger chunk of their paycheck. In fact, mortgage rates have already risen for seven consecutive weeks.
Trends in Non-Housing Consumer Debt
The key stories in non-housing consumer debt are student loans and auto loans.
The former category of debt has grown substantially over the past two decades, with growth tapering off during the pandemic. This can be attributed to COVID relief measures which have temporarily lowered the interest rate on direct federal student loans to 0%.
Additionally, these loans were placed into forbearance, meaning 37 million borrowers have not been required to make payments. As of April 2022, the value of these waived payments has reached $195 billion.
Over the course of the pandemic, very few direct federal borrowers have made voluntary payments to reduce their loan principal. When payments eventually resume, and the 0% interest rate is reverted, economists believe that delinquencies could rise significantly.
Auto loans, on the other hand, are following a similar trajectory as mortgages. Both new and used car prices have risen due to the global chip shortage, which is hampering production across the entire industry.
To put this in numbers, the average price of a new car has climbed from $35,600 in 2019, to over $47,000 today. Over a similar timeframe, the average price of a used car has grown from $19,800, to over $28,000.
Misc2 weeks ago
The Top 10 Largest Nuclear Explosions, Visualized
Energy3 weeks ago
Mapped: Solar and Wind Power by Country
Politics2 weeks ago
Mapped: The State of Global Democracy in 2022
Energy2 weeks ago
Visualizing U.S. Crude Oil and Petroleum Product Imports in 2021
Markets3 days ago
Made in America: Goods Exports by State
Technology3 weeks ago
Synthetic Biology: The $3.6 Trillion Science Changing Life as We Know It
Markets4 weeks ago
Why Investors Tuned Out Netflix
Markets1 week ago
Visualizing China’s $18 Trillion Economy in One Chart