Sign up FAST! Login

Middle class Americans: Not so wealthy by global standards

Stashed in: Economics!, Wealth!, Winner take all., Awesome, America!, Homeless, Economics, Money, Rich people get richer., Healthcare!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

America ranks #4 globally in average wealth but only #19 in MEDIAN wealth. Why? We are #1 in wealth inequality.

We spend too much compared to other cultures. 

Overspending is part of it but so is real estate. And uneven distribution of assets. 

Super rich Americans skew average wealth upwards. The U.S. has 42% of the world's millionaires, and 49% of those with more than $50 million in assets. 

Related: Where in the world are the super rich?

This schism secures us the top rank in one net worth measure -- wealth inequality

There's one main reason why the average Spaniard or Italian has more to his name than the typical American: real estate. 

Home ownership rates are higher in many European countries than in the U.S., giving Joe European more assets to his name than his American counterpart. Plus, it's easier for Americans to borrow money, which eats away at their net worth, said Jim Davies, an economics professor at Western University in Ontario, Canada, and co-author of the Credit Suisse report. 

Related: Rich, really rich, and ultra rich

Middle class Americans were also hurt greatly by the housing collapse at the end of the last decade. The median wealth of families was $77,300 in 2010, a nearly 40% drop from 2007, according to Federal Reserve statistics. 

"Changes in home prices have a big effect on the wealth in the middle," Davies said.

Middle class Australians, by comparison, are leading the pack. The country's residents have the highest median net worth, coming in at $219,500. Australia also has low wealth inequality.

This is in part because Australians have a strong tradition of home ownership, though escalating prices have made it tougher for young adults to secure the Australian Dream. Those down under also have a mandatory retirement savings program, where they must squirrel away more than 9% of their income for their Golden Years, and they carry relatively low credit card and student loan debt.

Related: Middle class & living paycheck to paycheck

Americans, meanwhile, are having trouble building wealth because wages have stagnated for more than a decade. Median household income was $51,017 in 2012, compared to $56,080 in 1999, according to the Census Bureau's most recent statistics.

We mostly overspend on healthcare.

Also true. We overspend on healthcare and education costs have also gotten out of whack. 

You May Also Like: