London - The United States has 10 times more affluent
households than China or India, research shows, undermining arguments the
global economy can be sustained by consumption in emerging markets.
A survey of affluent households around the world - defined
as having wealth of more than $100 000 - by research firm TNS found 80% of such
people live in Western countries.
While the number of affluent households in China and India
is 3 million each, the US has more than 31 million, the survey shows.
The results challenge hopes that the boom economies of Asia
can supplant an ailing US as the world's consumer of last resort, and keep
global growth ticking over.
Reg van Steen, a director of business and finance at TNS,
said researchers had to drop the wealth threshold to $40 000 for Brazil to make
it possible to find a large-enough sample.
"What really surprises is China has surpassed Germany,
France and the UK when it comes to the number of affluent. (But) it will take
some time before we really see a shift from West to East," he said.
The number of households with more than $100 000 in liquid
assets stands at 2.9 million in the UK, 2.5 million in Germany and 2.7 million
in France, the survey of 12 000 people in 24 countries found.
The study also highlights the tiny proportion of overall
population taken up by the affluent middle classes in China and India, compared
with developed countries.
The incidence of affluence in the US is 27%, the study
shows, 20% in Canada and 11% in the UK, while the proportion in China is 0.75%.
India's affluent make up 1.25% of the country's population.
A global study of wealth published this year by Merrill
Lynch and global consulting firm Capgemini found China has the world's
fourth-largest population of millionaires.
However, the top three - the US, Japan and Germany - account
for more than half of the world's millionaires.