The pattern of membership changes once again for the US dollar millionaires at the top of the pyramid. The number of millionaires in any given country is determined by three factors: the adult population size, average wealth and wealth inequality.
The United States scores high on all three of these criteria and has by far the greatest number of millionaires, 14.2 million, or 41% of the worldwide total (see Figure 3). A few years ago, the number of Japanese millionaires was not far short of the United States figure, but the number of US millionaires rose just as the number of Japanese millionaires declined. Japan’s share of global millionaires fell below 10% for the first time a year ago; it is now down to 8%, barely above the leading European contenders: France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The ten remaining countries which host at least one percent of the global membership are led by Italy, Australia and China, with shares of 3-5% each. Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland have relatively small populations, but their high average wealth elevates them to the list of countries which have more than 300,000 millionaires, the minimum requirement for a one percent share of the world total.
Membership of the millionaire group
Variations in wealth levels affect the pattern of wealth distribution. Since mid-2013, the increase in average wealth combined with a rising population level has boosted the number of millionaires by 3.8 million worldwide, of which the United States alone accounted for 1.6 million new members (see Table 1). The United Kingdom added a further half million and the Eurozone countries another 850,000, mainly in France (up 310,000), Germany (up 243,000), Italy (up 216,000) and Spain (up 89,000). Few countries experienced a drop in millionaire numbers and the declines were very small: Argentina, Indonesia, Norway, Russia and Turkey together shed 55,000.