Report shows 2325 billionaires worldwide. But over 900 million people live on US$1.25 a day

Still the richest man in the world
The rich and famous might be small in numbers but they are mighty powerful when it comes to controlling global assets. Here’s a staggering fact: a bare 0.004 percent of the world’s adult population controls nearly US$30 trillion (NZ$38.37 trillion) of assets – or the equivalent of 13% of the globe’s wealth.

According to a recent study by UBS/Wealth-X, 211,275 people qualify as “ultra-high net worth” (UHNW) — those with assets above $30 million. Of these, 2,325 have more than $1 billion. The number of high net worth rose 6% from a year ago, while their wealth grew 7%, due to soaring stock and property markets.

Globally, there are 2,325 billionaires with a net worth totalling $7.3 trillion, up 1% from last year. The number of billionaires is the highest ever recorded in history and expected to exceed 3,800 by 2020, according to Wealth-X’s report. At the moment, there is one billionaire for every three million people in the world.

Europe, biggest concentration of the rich (Source Wealth-X)

Great divide

The great divide between the rich and the rest of the world has become the centre of income inequality watchers.

Recently, Oxfam noted that the bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as just 85 of the world’s richest people.

The richest 1% increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries based on Oxfam’s database (1980-2012).

Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years, it notes.

Rich and richer (Source: Oxfam)

Concentration of wealth (Source: Oxfam)

One billion poor

Its views are echoed by the World Bank whose own research confirms the rising chasm between those who have, and those who don’t, with income inequality hitting its highest levels since World War Two.

“The number of poor remains unacceptably high, at just over 1 billion people (14 percent of the world population) in 2011, compared with 1.2 billion (19 percent of the world population) in 2008,” according to the World Bank.

Living standards of the bottom 40 percent in the developing world are much worse off when it comes to access to education, health, and sanitation.

The World Bank says in analysing high-income countries, the OECD’s researchers have found that the average income of the richest 10 percent of the population is now about 9.5 times that of the poorest 10 percent, as opposed to 7 times 25 years ago.

Forecasts in the report show that poverty will remain stubbornly high in the South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa regions, where an estimated 377 million of the world’s 412 million poor will likely reside in 2030. In 2011, the two regions were home to 814 million of the world’s 1 billion poor.

The average OECD Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, increased from 0.29 in the mid-1990s to 0.32 in 2010, including increases in inequality in some of the world’s highest income countries such as the United States and Japan, according to Inter Press Service News Agency (IPSNA), citing World Bank numbers.

“Perhaps most strikingly, income inequality is increasing even in traditionally egalitarian high-income stalwarts like Denmark, Germany, and Sweden,” the report quoted the World Banks saying.

Youth unemployment

Youth unemployment remains a concern, rising to 16.3 percent in 2012, up from 12 percent in 2000 across 34 OECD countries.

Unemployment has reached close to 49 million people in the OECD as a whole, or about 7.9 percent of the labor force. In addition, nearly 8 million youth in OECD countries are neither employed nor enrolled in education or training, according to the report.

About one seventh of the world’s population lives beneath the poverty line of $US1.25 per day.

The United Nations Development Programme notes that on average -- taking into account population size -- income inequality increased by 11 percent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010.

“A significant majority of households in developing countries—more than 75 percent of the population—are living today in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s,” it says.