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24/7 Wall St.: Countries with the most millionaires

7:48 AM, Sep 15, 2013   |    comments
Downtown Tokyo. (Photo: Keith Tsuji, Getty Images)
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The world is becoming wealthier. According to a new report from The Boston Consulting Group, global wealth grew by about 8% in 2010 to $121.8 trillion. By the end of 2015 that amount is expected to increase to about $162 trillion. Despite this, most people will not see large increases in their personal fortunes anytime soon. This is because of the the gap between the rich and poor is increasing.

24/7 Wall St. looked at The Boston Consulting Group report "Shaping A New Tomorrow: How To Capitalize on the Momentum of Change" to identify the 10 nations with the highest total number of millionaire households. These countries were then compared to countries with the highest numbers of households with more than $100 million in AuM, as well as each country's GDP. The probable causes for individual financial success were also considered, including tax laws, industry and economic conditions.

The countries with the most millionaires have a number of things in common. They all have high GDPs, with only a few falling outside of the top ten for all nations. Most have also embraced market-driven economies. Each country also leads in at least one, and frequently multiple, industries in which successful entrepreneurs benefit.

While China and the United States both have among the greatest number of millionaire households, they have among the highest rates of income inequality, according to the United Nations. Millionaire households, or households with $1 million or more in total AuM (assets under management), represented just 0.9% of all households in 2010. These households own 39% of the total wealth, however. This is an increase from 37% in 2009. As wealth increases, the amount that is owned by millionaires increases dramatically.

This is 24/7 Wall St.'s countries with the most millionaires.

10. Hong Kong

> Millionaire Households: 200,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 223
> GDP (millions of USD): 225,003 (N/A)

Hong Kong, although not technically a sovereign country, has a largely free market economy that relies on international trade and finance. It is home to HSBC and Hang Seng Bank, two of the largest Chinese banks. It is also home to Li Ka-shing, Forbes 11th richest man in the world, who works in a number of businesses through Hutchison Whampoa Limited and Cheung Kong Holdings. There is a flat 15% income tax and no capital gains tax or sales tax. Hong Kong also has the fourth highest concentration of millionaires, with 8.7% of all households having at least one million dollars. The island also has the third highest concentration of ultra-high-net-worth households, or those with $100 million or more.

9. France

> Millionaire Households: 210,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 377
> GDP (millions of USD): 2,582,527 (5th highest)

France has the fifth highest GDP in the world and the ninth greatest number of millionaires. Over the last 15 years, a number of major French companies, such as Air France and France Telecom, have become either partly or totally privatized, giving rise to a new class of millionaires, like Stephane Richard, CEO of France Telecom. France has also alienated the wealthy in the past with policies such as the ISF tax, or wealth tax, which was passed in 1989 by Socialist president Francois Mitterand. The tax is an annual tax on French citizens with assets of more than roughly $1.1 million. Many politicians, including President Nicolas Sarkozy, have recently called for reform of the tax, saying that it drives wealthy individuals out of the country.

8. Italy

> Millionaire Households: 270,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 494
> GDP (millions of USD): 2,055,114 (8th highest)

Italy's ranking for number of millionaires fell from 6th in 2009 to 8th in 2011. This is probably the result of the international financial crisis worsening economic conditions in the country. Unemployment alone has risen from 6.2% in 2007 to 8.4% as of March 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Factors such as this can end up hurting even big earners. Regardless, the country is home to a large community of millionaires and billionaires. The Italian economy includes many companies which produce consumer goods such as automobiles, and textiles.

7. Taiwan

> Millionaire Households: 280,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: N/A
> GDP (millions of USD): 430,580 (24th highest)

Over the past decade, a number of large banks and financial institutions in Taiwan have been privatized. Taiwan is also known for its electronics and machinery industries, which generate approximately 70% of its GDP growth. Taiwan has begun to face a major wealth gap, however, with the average household income of the top 20% of earners being 6.34 times that of the bottom 20%. The government is considering passing a "luxury tax" to fight this which would be levied on investment housing transactions, private jets, and other luxury items, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

6. Switzerland

> Millionaire Households: 330,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 352
> GDP (millions of USD): 523,772 (19th highest)

Switzerland has a highly developed services sector which benefits its economy greatly. Nearly 10% of households in the country have $1 million or more, more than double that of the United States. The country is a major center for financial services and is home to firms such as UBS, the world's second largest manager of private wealth assets. Other big employers include Novartis and Nestle. Switzerland has been an attractive destination for wealthy individuals, partly because foreigners did not need to declare their incomes or assets. In 2009, this rule was overturned. This may cause many millionaires, such as French singer Johnny Hallyday, who moved to Switzerland in 2006 to avoid French taxes, to leave the country.

5. Germany

> Millionaire Households: 400,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 839
> GDP (millions of USD): 3,315,643 (4th highest)

Germany has the fifth largest economy in the world and the fifth largest number of millionaire households. The country is a leader in a number of major industries, producing large amounts of machinery, automobiles, chemicals, and more. Germany is home to Deutsche Bank, the world's largest foreign exchange dealer, as well as Siemens, the largest engineering conglomerate in Europe. Some of Germany's richest are tied to the automobile industry including BMW heiress Susanne Klatten and the Porsche family.

4. United Kingdom

> Millionaire Households: 570,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 738
> GDP (millions of USD): 2,247,455 (6th highest)

Although the United Kingdom has large coal, gas, and oil resources, its main sources of GDP are services such as insurance, banking and business services. The number of millionaires increased dramatically after the Labour Party came into power in 1997 and enacted tax cuts, according to the Telegraph. The wealthy in the UK now range from Virgin CEO Richard Branson, to steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, to Queen Elizabeth.

3. China

> Millionaire Households: 1,110,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 393
> GDP (millions of USD): 5,878,257 (2nd highest)

Since the late 1970s, China has undergone a transformation from a largely centrally planned economy to one that is much more market-oriented. Many industries which were once government-controlled, such as oil, gas, and steel, have since been privatized to much success. As a result, its GDP has increased more than ten times what it was in 1978. The country is now an integral part of the world economy. As of 2010, China is the world's largest exporter. According to The Boston Consulting Group, wealth in China will grow at a compound annual rate of 18% between the end of 2010 and the end of 2015. Among the richest people in the country is Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu, China's most popular search engine. Li is currently estimated to have a fortune of about $9.4 billion.

2. Japan

> Millionaire Households: 1,530,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: N/A
> GDP (millions of USD): 5,458,872 (3rd highest)

Japan's economy relies on strong cooperation between government and private companies, largely connected through subsidies, and a strong work ethic that is a part of Japanese culture. Major industries in the country include consumer electronics, automobiles, computers, petrochemicals, iron and steel, and pharmaceuticals. Major companies such as Toyota, Honda, and Sony, ensure that the country's GDP remains high. Top earners in the country include retail magnate Tadashi Yanai, owner of Uniqlo and other brands, and Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man credited with turning Nintendo into the video game powerhouse it is today.

1. United States

> Millionaire Households: 5,220,000
> Ultra High Net Worth Households: 2,692
> GDP (millions of USD): 14,657,800 (highest)

The United States has by far the largest amount of millionaire households, as well as ultra-high-net-worth-households. The U.S. is home to the largest economy in the world - almost three times the size of China's, the next biggest. There is also a growing income gap in the country. In 2009, the top 20% of earners, or those making $100,000 or more a year, made half of all income generated in the country, according to the US Census. The bottom 20% made only 3.4%.

USA Today

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