Which Countries Are Really The Richest?

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Mar 27, 2024 - 03:20 AM

Ranking countries by the size of their economies and their overall net wealth, the U.S. is usually at the top of the list, followed by countries like China, Japan or Germany.

But, as Statista's Katharina Buchholz details below, sorting countries for their per-capita average wealth – or even for their median per-capita wealth – other countries come out on top.

Using the two metrics, Switzerland was the richest country in the world with the highest average per-capita wealth of around US$685,000 per adult.

Looking at median per-capita wealth - the wealth of the person that shares their country with an equal number of richer and poorer people - Iceland tops the ranking with around $413,000 in wealth being held by this (imaginary) person.

Infographic: Which Countries Are Really the Richest? | Statista

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Per-capita assets arguably show a more balanced picture of a country’s wealth by acknowledging that smaller countries with less citizens will of course accumulate less wealth in total.

Yet, calculating averages does not take into account how wealth is distributed in a society.

Median wealth, on the other hand, increases the more equal a country’s assets are allocated. Iceland and other Scandinavian countries are known for their more equal wealth distribution and data by Credit Suisse reflects this to a degree. Denmark comes in rank 7 and Norway in rank 10 for per-capita median wealth.

The U.S. is the third-wealthiest country on a per-capita average basis, yet Americans are only in rank 15 for median wealth.

The situation in Belgium is the other way round: It is listed 13th for average wealth, but third for median wealth, showing that it is a more egalitarian country in terms of wealth distribution.

Looking at the size of the gap between mean and median wealth, the U.S. comes in rank 7 with an average wealth more than five times or 512% as high as the median wealth. This is exceeded by no major country in the world except Brazil, where this number stands at 517%.

Some of the smallest relative gaps between mean and median wealth were registered in the countries topping the median wealth list: Iceland, Luxembourg and Belgium. Other countries which might not have the highest mean wealth rates but do have some of the smallest gaps are Eastern European nations Slovakia and Slovenia. Poorer countries which nevertheless have big gaps between average and median wealth include the aforementioned Brazil as well as South Africa, Russia and Nigeria.