Global study finds 80% of world’s wealthy still in the West

A worldwide study into attitudes and investment priorities of the affluent shows the US still ranks as the world’s most prosperous country, but India and China have overtaken many other wealthy Western nations.

Reserach company TNS based its report on 12,000 people in 24 markets. The United States still has 31m affluent households but the growth of developing economic powerhouses China, Brazil and India is already starting to impact personal fortunes among households with more than $100,000 investable assets.

Emerging markets now rival their developed counterparts in terms of the amount people have to invest. UAE and India appear in the top five countries where the affluent have more than $1m investable assets on average, alongside Singapore and Hong Kong. The only Europeans to feature in this top five are the Swedish, whilst the UK and France are the least likely in Europe to have these levels of investable assets.

While incidence of affluence would naturally be higher in small, wealthy countries like Luxemburg (29%) and Singapore (20%), there are huge contrasts in markets with large populations; while 27% of the US are affluent, this falls to around 1% in India and China.

This demonstrates a great contrast in wealth distribution within emerging markets, even where the actual number of affluent households is high and highlights a need for very precise marketing strategies to reach the right audience, the report said.

Fundamental social shifts are unearthed when examining the demographics of the world’s affluent. While they average 57 years old in North America and Northern Europe, this falls to the early 40s in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. While men are the primary decision makers among affluent households in India (80% men) and Central Europe (79%), the balance is spread far more evenly in North America (45% men).

TNS’s findings also demonstrate regional contrasts in terms of what the affluent actually invest in. While Chinese, Indian and German affluent are keen investors in precious metals (cited by 35%, 33% and 23% of respondents respectively), this falls to just 3% in Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands, and 2% in Denmark and Israel.

Only 5% of Norwegians invest in bonds, compared to 31% of the Swedes and while the popularity of commodities fluctuates at a global level, they are very popular among India’s affluent.

TNS is part of Kantar, a global insight, information and consultancy group.


Country Affluent households* by country (x 1,000) Incidence of affluent households by country
US 31,400 27%
Canada 2,600 20%
Brazil (see note below) 3,000 5%
Netherlands 850 12%
Belgium 580 13%
Luxemburg 89 29%
France 2,700 10%
Germany 2,500 7%
UK 2,900 11%
Sweden 270 7%
Finland 180 7%
Norway 230 10%
Denmark 200 8%
Italy 2,500 10%
Portugal 160 4%
Spain 800 5%
Czech Republic 13 0.30%
UAE 35 3%
Israel 200 13%
Hong Kong 350 15%
China 3,000 0.75%
India 3,000 1.25%
Singapore 230 20%
Australia 400 5%

 Affluent households defined as those with $100,000+ investable assets, except in Brazil where this figure is $40,000+.



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