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We May Not Feel Rich in the U.S. “ But We Are

We have always been told that we Americans are blessed. We are the wealthiest nation in the world and are viewed with envy by the rest of the “poor” world.
In fact, with a population of 307 million among a world population of nearly 6.9 billion, we Americans make up only 4.5 percent of the world’s population. Yet we control 39 percentoftheworldswealth. That is an enormous imbalance.

But I don’t feel so “rich.” Do you?

Well, arecentstudyonwealthintheU.S. might explain why we don’t feel so rich. We now know that 20 percent of the people in the United States controls 85 percent of our nation’s wealth.

When you put that information in a global perspective, the reality hits home. The top 20 percent of America’s wealthiest comprise less than 1 percent of the world’s population, but they control almost a third of the world’s wealth.

The rest of us Americans are pretty “average” by comparison.

Gotcha feeling good about being “average,” did I? Well, that was a sucker punch.

Let’s talk about what really is average. Worldwide, thetop 0.5 percent owns more than one third of the world’s estimated $200 trillion in assets. The richest 8 percent own almost 80 percent of the world’s wealth.

If you have assets of $4,000 after deducting your debt, you are in the wealthiest half of the world’s population.

And here’s the real kicker: Half of the global population together possesses less than 2 percent of global wealth. That is $4 trillion!

When divided among almost 3.5 billion people, however, it averages out to a little over $1,000 per person – and half of that amount typically is in nonfinancial resources (dwelling, tools and so on).

If $4,000 in assets is the top for the lower half of the wealth range, sizeable numbers are far below the $1,000 average. India and many countries in Africa have high percentages of their populations in this category.

Think of what you would have in terms of housing, appliances, transportation, clothing and so on if your net worth was around $1,000.

I’m feeling a little better about not being average; but I am not feeling better about where the other half find themselves – staring into the face of hunger, want and need.

MichaelFink is a retired religious educator who lives in Dandridge, Tenn., and blogs at MikesThinkingAloud. This column is drawn from posts on his blog.