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.
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