In this Washington Post item by soon-to-be-departing Ezra Klein on today’s hot-button issue of inequality, readers are provided another example of the important difference between median and mean, reinforcing the point that is often made about what happens to the average income in a bar when Bill Gates walks in the door.
… Switzerland leads in average wealth, with each adult worth, on average, $513,000. Australia is in second place, at $403,000. The U.S. is in the $250,000-300,000 range.
But that’s average wealth — which is to say, that number spikes if Bill Gates moves into your country. Median wealth is a more interesting measure. There, Australia leads with $220,000. They’re followed by Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Italy, the UK, and Japan. The U.S. falls way back on this measure, with a median wealth of just $45,000.
And from the referenced Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report comes the quote of the day:
Our estimates suggest that the lower half of the global population possesses barely 1% of global wealth, while the richest 10% of adults own 86% of all wealth, and the top 1% account for 46% of the total.
It’s not clear, exactly, what should be done about the growing problem of wealth, income, and opportunity inequality, but it’s certainly getting a lot of attention this year and deservedly so after reading stories like For the Love of Money.