More Millionaires Now Than Before the Recession


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Are millionaires becoming a dime a dozen?

There were 10.9 million people worldwide with seven figures worth of investible assets last year, up 8.3% from the year before. This year was also the first to surpass the 10.1 million millionaires in 2007, just before the recession hit, according to the annual World Wealth Report put out by Merill Lynch and Capgemini. In fact, 2010 millionaires’ total net worth was estimated to be $42.7 trillion, or $2 trillion more than the world’s millionaires were worth in 2007.

The U.S. alone had 3.1 million millionaires last year, up from 2.8 million the year before, making us the home for more than a quarter of the world’s population of high-net-worth individuals, the most of any country. As the report shows, though, the U.S. – and North America as a whole – may not stay on top for long.

The number of millionaires in the Asia-Pacific region shot up by nearly 10%, to 3.3 million, last year, passing the total number in Europe and falling just 100,000 behind the millionaire population in North America, thanks the fast growth in wealth of countries such as China and India.

Even the makeup of the world’s millionaires is gradually changing and ceasing to be entirely older males.

More than a quarter of the world’s millionaires (27%) are now women, compared with 24% in 2008, a phenomenon even more prevalent in the West. In North America, for example, 37% of the millionaires are women, which the report notes is due to women being more “well-established in the business world.”

The world’s millionaires are also getting younger, with some 17% of the population last year age 45 and younger, compared with just 13% in 2008. The Asia-Pacific region in particular has an astoundingly high number of young millionaires, with just more than 40% of the high-net-worth population falling into the 45-and-under category. Likewise, more than one-fifth of the millionaires in the Middle East are in that age group.

Just 10% of the millionaires in North America were 45 and under last year, though, which may be surprising considering the U.S. is home to the many young tech and business entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley and Wall Street. But according to the report, the discrepancy may simply be a matter of the age characteristics of the population. More than half the Middle East’s population is under 25, whereas North America’s population is older.

During the recession, the population and wealth of millionaires in the U.S. and globally took a major hit, in part because these people were more heavily invested in stocks, real estate and other assets that were hit by the global financial crisis. The wealthiest households in the U.S. specifically – the top 1% – saw their fortunes drop by nearly one-tenth between 2007 and 2008, several times more steeply than the average household. But as the wealth report shows, their finances have recovered more quickly than most households in part because their real estate and stock investments have performed better in recent years.

So it looks like the rich are finally back to getting richer. Now how about the rest of us?

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the Credit Center.

Show Comments

Back to Top