We’re Not As Wealthy As We Think: 18 Countries Have A Richer Middle Class Than The U.S.

June 11, 2014  |  

The U.S. seems to be quite wealthy. After all, the average American’s net worth comes in at a little over $300,000, according to the Credit Suisse Global Report. That puts us in fourth place internationally after the Swiss, Aussies, and Norwegians — not bad huh?  However, this figure will fool you, according to CNN Money.

“Americans tend to think of their middle class as being the richest in the world, but it turns out, in terms of wealth, they rank fairly low among major industrialized countries,” said Edward Wolff, an economics professor at New York University.

Globally, middle-class Americans are only the 19th richest in the world with a median net worth of $44,900 per adult. The U.S. falls below Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, and a slew of European nations. Super-affluent Americans skew the average wealth upwards creating the large discrepancy between America’s average and median net worth.

“The U.S. has 42 percent of the world’s millionaires and 49 percent of those with more than $50 million in assets,” CNN Money adds.

If anything, the drastic gap between the two measures point out the big elephant in the room: The growing wealth inequality in America.

According to BeyondChron, a recent study finds that America’s top 10 percent owns 70 percent of the nation’s assets. Let’s put it into perspective: Imagine a  pie graph depicting America’s wealth — now imagine 90 percent of America only getting one-third of that pie. Daily Banter calls it “The American Nightmare.”

CNN Money points to real estate as the blight of the middle-class American. Compared to Europe, the U.S. homeownership rate is dismal. The New York Times says that as of 2013, the homeownership rate fell to 64.9 percent, the lowest rate since 1995. Wealth-building is an uphill battle for Americans as wages have stagnated for more than 10 years. “Median household income was $51,017 in 2012, compared to $56,080 in 1999. . .” CNN Money adds.

But declining homeownership and static incomes are only part of the issue. Kenneth Thomas, a political science professor at University of Missouri, says outsourcing jobs, the decline of the unions’ power, and increased usage of technology diminishes the middle class as well.

On the other hand, Australia has the wealthiest middle class in the world. Their secret? CNN Money points to their “strong tradition” of homeownership. The Aussies, who also have low wealth inequality, and have a median net worth of $219,500.

Compare that to our measly $44,900.

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