USA Median Wealth - 6/24/14 | WYPR

USA Median Wealth - 6/24/14

Jun 24, 2014

America remains a wealthy nation.  The latest Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report indicates that America’s average wealth exceeds $300,000 per adult, enough to rank America fourth in the world behind only Switzerland, Australia and Norway.  But that’s average wealth – the figure is misleading because it really doesn’t speak to how the middle class is doing financially. 

America’s median wealth is less than $45,000 per adult, meaning that half of adults possess more than that amount, and half possess less.  That’s only good enough for 19th place, behind Japan, Canada and much of Western Europe.  As pointed out by CNNMoney, super rich Americans skew average wealth upwards.  America is home to 42 percent of the world’s millionaires – 49 percent if one relegates one’s consideration to only those with more than $50 million in assets. 

When one considers median wealth, even the median Spaniard or Italian is wealthier than the median American.  One explanation for this state of affairs is that homeownership is higher in many European societies than in the U.S., which represents a key source of wealth.  Moreover, it’s easier for Americans to borrow money, which eats away at their net worth.