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Swiss pass Norway to become world's richest

Meritxell Mir · 20 Oct 2011, 10:40

Published: 20 Oct 2011 11:15 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Oct 2011 10:40 GMT+02:00

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The average Swiss sits on a fortune amounting to 450,000 francs ($497,000), making the country the wealthiest in the world, according to a new report published on Thursday.

Figures show Switzerland overtaking Norway as the richest nation in the world in terms of average wealth per adult. Australia and Singapore follow in third and fourth places, respectively.

When looking at figures in US dollars, average household wealth doubled in the last decade to a great extent due to the strength of the franc, the report states.

The increase was particularly strong in 2010, when Switzerland became the only country in the world where the average wealth per adult largely surpassed the $500,000 barrier.

However, in franc terms, Switzerland suffered a decline between 2001 and 2002, only to show a slight upward trend in following years.

In the category "very large fortunes" (more than $50 million), Switzerland ranks number three in the world with 3,820 individuals, after the United States with 35,400, and China with 5,400. In total, the report says that the super-rich category amounts for a total of 84,700 people in the world.

Inequalities in wealth distribution have diminished in Switzerland over the last century. As a consequence, a big portion of the population is on the upper levels of the wealth pyramid. 1.8 percent of the richest people in the world are Swiss, even though the country’s number of inhabitants does not account for more than 0.1 of the world’s population.

Overall, compared to last year, the world's wealth increased by 18.4 percent to $231 billion, thanks to the growth in South Africa, India, Australia, Chile and Singapore.

The experts at Credit Suisse expect an increase of 50 percent of global wealth in 2016. China should become the second richest country in the world at that time, overtaking Japan. The United States is likely to retain first position with $82 billion.

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

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