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Star of the east
Wealth per adult in China has grown robustly since 2000, more than tripling from USD 5,670 to USD 21,330 in 2014. The financial crisis caused a major setback, with wealth falling by approximately 20%. But wealth in China soon recovered to its pre-crisis level, and has continued to grow, although almost all of the gain since 2010 has been due to appreciation of the yuan.
Total household wealth in China is the third highest in the world, just 8% behind Japan and 44% ahead of France (in fourth place). Due to a high personal saving rate, a high proportion (49%) of Chinese household assets is in financial form compared with other major developing or transition countries. At the same time, privatised housing, new construction and rural land are very important forms of wealth inChina, accounting for much of the USD 10,900 in real assets per adult. Debt averages USD 1,600, equivalent to 6% of gross assets. While this is relatively low, personal debt has been rising at a fast rate in recent years.
Although significant inequality is created by the strong urban-rural divide in China, at the turn of the century overall wealth inequality was low – both by broad international standards and in comparison to other transition countries. This was due to factors such as the virtual absence of inherited fortunes, and relatively equal division of both rural land and privatised housing. Inequality has been rising strongly, however,with the increasing wealth of successful entrepreneurs,professionals and investors. China now has over one million millionaires, and more residents with wealth above USD 50million than any other country except the USA. Its Gini coefficient for wealth inequality now stands at 72%, which is not extremely high by international standards, but is much higher than its level of 60% in the year 2000.
Wealth per adult over time
Composition of wealth per adult