The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth


  •  Corresponding author: James B. Davies, Department of Economics, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada N6A 5C2. E-mail:

  • We thank participants at the May 2006 UNU-WIDER project meeting on Personal Assets from a Global Perspective, and the August 2006 International Association for Research in Income and Wealth 29th General Conference in Joensuu, Finland, for their valuable comments and suggestions. Special thanks are due to Tony Atkinson, Brian Bucks, Markus Jäntti and Branko Milanovic. Responsibility for errors and omissions is our own.


The level of average household wealth in all countries is estimated via the determinants of assets and debts for 39 countries which have balance sheet or survey data. The distribution of wealth in all countries is inferred from information on the pattern of wealth ownership for 20 countries (covering 59% of world population). Combining the level and distribution figures suggests that median global wealth was PPP$8,635 in the year 2000, and that PPP$518,361 was needed to belong to the top percentile. The top decile owned 71% of world wealth and the global Gini value was 0.802.