Loaded and Skint

The United Nations released two reports last week. One garnered a great deal of press coverage – The World Distribution of Household Wealth by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University.

They found that

  • The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth
  • that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000
  • the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total
  • the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth
  • assets of $2,200 per adult placed a household in the top half of the
    world wealth distribution in the year 2000.

  • To be among the richest 10% of adults in the world required $61,000 in assets
  • more than $500,000 was needed to belong to the richest 1%, which 37 million people have
  • North America has only 6% of the world adult population, it accounts for 34% of
    household wealth, and Europe and high incom countries in Asia-Pacific have more than their fair share too.

While the report spends a lot of time talking about inequality between households, precious little time is spent discussing what happens within them. Indeed, you’ll not find a single mention of gender or inequality within the household at all. Putting this sort of information in would make the inequalities between wealth even more egregious.

To find out more about the systematic discrimination against women, you’ll need to turn to UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children report. There you’ll find information on women’s income (not the same as the wealth measured in the previous report, but linked nonetheless). And you’ll find, whether in the Global North or the Global South, that women earn systematically less than women. And, yes, you’re reading the graph correctly. The income differential between men and women is higher in industrialised countries than in the former Soviet Union or in East Asia/Pacific.

Graph of women's global income differentials