By Robert Frank
Last year was another good year for millionaires – though their pace of growth is slowing.
According to a new report by Boston Consulting Group out today, the number of millionaire households in the world grew by 12.2% in 2010, to 12.5 million. (BCG defines millionaires as those with $1 million or more in investible assets, excluding homes, luxury goods and ownership in one’s own company).
The U.S. continues to lead the world in millionaires, with 5.2 million millionaire households, followed by Japan with 1.5 million millionaire households, China with 1.1 million and the U.K. with 570,000. Singapore leads the world in “millionaire density,” or the percentage of millionaires, with 15.5% of its population now millionaire households.
The most important trend, however, is the global wealth distribution. According to the report, the world’s millionaires represent 0.9% of the world’s population but control 39% of the world’s wealth, up from 37% in 2009. Their wealth now totals $47.4 trillion in investible wealth, up from $41.8 trillion in 2009.
Those higher up the wealth ladder also gained. Those with $5 million or more, who represent 0.1% of the population, controlled 22% of the world’s wealth, up from 20 percent in 2009.
As you can see from the accompanying chart, millionaires control 29% of North America’s wealth, while millionaires control about 38% of the wealth in the Middle East and Africa. While the chart makes it look like millionaire-wealth in America is more concentrated, we also have far more millionaires, so their wealth is more spread out among the millionaire population.
Still, the data supports a trend we have been seeing for years: the rise of the global, winner-take-all (or most) economy.