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‘Richest 2% own half of everything’

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06/12/2006

A United Nations research institute has announced that the richest 2% of adults in the world own half of all household wealth.

The World Institute for Development Economics Research at the UN University also found that poorer half of the world’s population own just 1% of global wealth.

Geographically, wealth is primarily found in North America, Europe, and some nations in the Asia Pacific region like Japan and Australia. Assets include land, animals, financial assets and buildings.

In the less developed countries, land and farm assets are important, demonstrating the greater impact of agriculture in those countries. In richer nations, however, landowners can afford not to farm their estates and many have dedictaed them to leisure pursuits such as golf courses.

Also, in many underdeveloped countries, “immature” financial institutions make it much harder for people to undertake realistic saving and investment.

The authors of the report say it is the most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken on such a scale. They claim the findings are important because personal wealth is an insurance against falls in income at key times like old age, sickness and unemployment.

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