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List of the World's Richest Countries; America's Special Role in It

By       Message Eric Zuesse       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   6 comments

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The world's richest countries are the ones where the median wealth per person is the highest. This system ranks nations truly according to the most-representative person in each given nation -- the person who is in the exact middle of that nation's population in terms of per-person wealth. Consequently, for example, if a Bill Gates or other billionaire relocates into a certain country, no matter how small its population is, this won't change that country's ranking, whereas it could raise the country's ranking if the ranking-system were according to the mean wealth per person (i.e., dividing everybody's total wealth by the total population-number). If a billionaire moves into a town where the median person's wealth is $100,000, then that town's mean wealth can increase by a huge multiple, but the town's median wealth would remain unchanged by the addition of that new resident. (Similarly, if the billionaire moved away, the town's per-person wealth wouldn't be affected by it.) To rank countries according to mean wealth would enable a country with only relatively few wealthy people to rank very high as a 'wealthy' nation, even if the vast majority of people there live in poverty and squalor. Only by using median wealth as the indicator of a country's wealth can a ranking system produce rankings that reflect the vast majority of people in each of the ranked nations. It's the only fair international ranking-system for the various nations' wealth: it shows the wealth of the typical person in each country.

The most authoritative calculation of per-capita wealth within nations has been performed by the team of world-respected specialists on such matters, who produce the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook. The latest edition was just now published, their Global Wealth Databook 2014. Following is the rank-order of the richest 33 countries, the only nations (other than a few tiny places such as Andora and Monaco, which aren't even calculated there) that can reasonably be called "First World," rather than simply "developing" or "outright poor." This is not to say that such a nation as China, which has a median per-person wealth of only $7,033, or Brazil, with $4,772, or Russia with $2,360, or India with $1,006, might not become major economic powers; but the average person in such nations is extremely poor by current First-World standards; and what will be listed below is that First World, as of today, not ten or twenty years from now.

The rank-order on this list is according to median wealth. Then there is a dot, followed by a second number, which represents the given nation's ranking in Credit Suisse's 2013 list. There is considerable change among the rankings from year-to-year, and some of this change results from methodological refinements, but there can also be real wealth-changes occurring, such as when the 2008 crash destroyed the values of people's houses, more in some countries than others, and of their retirement accounts. Then, in the listing below, comes the nation's name, followed by the median per-capita wealth there. Then comes a slash (/) followed by the mean per-capita wealth there. The mean per-capita wealth is always higher than the median per-capita wealth, because, even if there were total equality in wealth, the mean would be identical to the median; the mean can never be less than the median; it's always more than the median.

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The higher the ratio is of the mean/median, the more heavily skewed that nation's wealth-distribution is. The lowest such ratio on this list is Slovenia, $33,395/$21,855, or 1.53. Malta's is 1.71. Belgium's is 1.75. Italy's is 1.84. Luxembourg's is 1.98. Spain's is 1.99. All others are above 2. The highest wealth-inequality is found in U.S., 6.60; Denmark, 6.57; and Switzerland, 5.71. However, Denmark is one of the most-equal countries in terms of annual incomes. The U.S. is the only country that is extremely skewed in terms of both wealth and income. What's shown below relates only to wealth; not at all to income.

Here is the list:

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1.8. Iceland $104,109 / $234,785

2.2. Luxembourg $93,267 / $184,228

3.7. Japan $92,236 / $191,877

4.3. Belgium $84,526 / $147,824

5.6. UK $76,958 / $162,999

6.5. Italy $65,140/ $119,773

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7.1 Australia $54,426 / $103,151.

8.22. Taiwan $48,635 / $107,028

9.14. Netherlands $46,020 / $106,872

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)

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