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Westerners better off

Oct 11 2011 07:33 Reuters

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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. 

brics  |  wealth  |  money
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