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Rich get richer, just more slowly

The world’s wealthiest people got even richer last year, but the rate of growth slowed amid ongoing turmoil in the markets.

The world’s wealthiest people got even richer last year, but the rate of growth slowed amid ongoing turmoil in the markets.

Research by the Boston Consulting Group found that the private financial wealth sector grew by 1.9% to $122.8 trillion (€991.7 million) last year, far slower than the 9.6% and 6.8% increases experienced in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

This year’s growth was primarily driven by the “new world”, the report said – the total wealth in the Bric countries increased by 18.5% in 2011, compared to falls of 0.9% in North America, 0.4% in western Europe and 2.0% in Japan.

Overall, the number of millionaire households in the US and Japan combined decreased by 182,000, but globally the number grew by 175,000 – driven by China and India in particular.

However, the US still has the highest number of millionaire households at 5.1 million, followed by Japan (1.6 million). China, third on the list with 1.5 million, is likely to see strong growth in rich households in the coming years, driven by initial public offerings and wealth created by entrepreneurs.

Households in the $100 million-plus ultra-high net worth segment saw the strongest growth of all groups examined – with wealth rising by 3.6%. The US had the largest number of UHNW and billionaire households, while Switzerland, relative to population size, had the highest concentration of UHNW households.

The report, The Battle to Regain Strength: Global Wealth 2012, looked at63 markets representing more than 98% of global gross domestic product.

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