Credit Suisse has published its latest Global Wealth Report for 2018, showing exactly how wealth in South Africa is spread out – and how many local citizens are among the global elite.
According to the report, aggregate global wealth rose 4.6% to $317 trillion in 2018, outpacing population growth (3.2%) – reflecting an increase of $14 trillion.
While the global mean wealth is at $63,100 per adult, this masks considerable variation across countries and regions, the group said.
For example, Switzerland ($530,240), Australia ($411,060) and the US ($403,970) again head the league table according to wealth per adult.
The ranking by median wealth per adult favours countries with lower levels of wealth inequality and produces a slightly different table. This year, Australia ($191,450) edged ahead of Switzerland ($183,340) into first place.
In South Africa, mean wealth per adult is far lower down the list at $22,191 per adult – while median wealth sits at $6,726 per adult.
Global wealth is projected to rise by nearly 26% over the next five years, reaching $399 trillion by 2023. Emerging markets are responsible for a third of the growth, although they account for just 21% of current wealth.
South African wealth
According to the Credit Suisse, wealth in South Africa is on an ‘uptick’, though it is still struggling to reach previous levels of high growth.
“Household wealth in South Africa grew strongly prior to the global financial crisis, rising from $9,560 in the year 2000 to $25,280 in 2007. The country has not yet regained that pre-crisis wealth level,” it said.
“However, since 2015, wealth has risen by 26% in US dollar terms. In part that is due to currency appreciation, but, correcting for the rising rand, there has still been an increase of 13%.
“This reflects increased real growth in the domestic economy, stimulated partly by the strong rise in global trade seen in recent years.”
Despite these positive remarks, however, it is still evident that there is massive inequality in the distribution of wealth in the country, where the vast majority of people have a net worth below $10,000 (±R140,000).
South Africa has the same fraction of adults with wealth below $10,000 as the world as a whole, ie 64%. However, it also has fewer individuals with wealth above $100,000 (3.2% versus 9.4%).
The country’s top 10% of wealth holders have 68% of South Africa’s total $1.5 trillion wealth (ie, 3.5 million people have $1.02 trillion in wealth ) but this distribution gets even more alarming the further you break it down.
The top 5% control 57.8% of the wealth ($867 billion) – while the top 1%, controls 36.4% of the wealth ($546 billion).
South African millionaires
Credit Suisse estimated that 61,000 South Africans are members of the top 1% of global wealth holders, and that 50,000 are US dollar millionaires.
“The overall level of wealth inequality is high. The country has a wealth Gini coefficient of 81% and the share of the top 1% in total household wealth is 36%,” it said.
Of the adult population of 35.4 million people, Credit Suisse’s data shows that:
- 63.7% have wealth of $10,000 or less (22.58 million adults);
- 33.1% have wealth between $10,000 and $100,000 (11.72 million adults);
- 3.1% have wealth between $100,000 and $1 million (1.09 million adults); and
- 0.1% have wealth over $1 million (50,000 adults).
Breaking the data down further, this is how South Africa’s 50,000 dollar millionaires are spread out:
- 44,721 adults have wealth between $1 million and $5 million;
- 3,406 adults have wealth between $5 million and $10 million;
- 1,916 adults have wealth between $10 million and $50 million;
- 146 adults have wealth between $50 million and $100 million;
- 82 adults have wealth between $100 million and $500 million; and
- 10 adults have wealth higher than $500 million.