According to the 2014 wealth reports from Allianz and Credit Suisse, the global middle class is nearing the one billion people mark.
Allianz defines the ‘wealth middle class’ by taking the average global net per capita financial assets (€17,700 in 2013), and then calculating the number of individuals with assets corresponding to somewhere between 30% and 180% of this figure.
This class now includes 65 million people that have been demoted from the “wealth upper class” since 2000, and 491 million entrants from the lower wealth class. Since the year 2000, Allianz reports, the share of the population that falls into the wealth middle class in global terms has doubled in eastern Europe and Latin America, and has increased almost ten-fold in Asia (excluding Japan).
According to Credit Suisse, one-third of the global middle class now live in China, compared with just 3% in India. While India’s share in this growing global group has changed very little over the past decade, China’s has doubled since the year 2000.
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Significant inequalities remain. The number of members of the lower wealth class has remained relatively constant at around 3.5 billion people. This, in part at least, is likely to be explained by population growth – but also demonstrates that economic growth alone is not reducing the number of people in relative poverty.