Wealth

The U.S. is the top country for millionaires and billionaires

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A version of this article first appeared in CNBC’s Inside Wealth newsletter with Robert Frank, a weekly guide to the high-net-worth investor and consumer. Sign up to receive future editions, straight to your inbox.

The U.S. has rapidly overwhelmed China as the world’s top spot for millionaires and billionaires, according a new report.  

There are now more than 5.5 million Americans with liquid investible assets of more than $1 million, up 62% over the past decade and well above the global growth rate of 38%, according to the 2024 USA Wealth Report from Henley & Partners and New World Wealth.

In the past five years, the population of millionaires in the U.S. has grown 35%, nearly twice as fast as China’s. The U.S. is now home to 37% of the world’s millionaires, up from 35% in 2018.

The divergence grows even more at the top of the wealth ladder. The U.S. has 9,850 centi-millionaires (those worth $100 million or more) compared with China’s 2,352. The U.S. has about 788 billionaires to China’s 305.

“The USA remains the world’s undisputed leader in private wealth creation and accumulation,” according to the report.

Dominic Volek, group head of private clients at Henley, said the strict Covid lockdowns in China coupled with increases in its government intervention in the private sector, have slowed the growth in wealth creation.

“China has certainly slowed a lot due to these elements and the U.S. has benefited,” he said.

The shift from China to the U.S. is also reflected in wealth migration patterns. A net 13,500 Chinese millionaires left China in 2023, marking a new record. The U.S. had a net inflow of 2,200 millionaires in 2023 and a projected inflow of 3,500 in 2024, according to the Henley report.

“The USA remains a top draw for wealthy tech entrepreneurs and engineers, especially from Asia, Europe, and the UK,” the report said. 

America’s leadership in wealth creation is spilling over into spending and investing. A report from UBS and Art Basel finds that the U.S. is the leader in global art sales, accounting for 42% of sales by value. The U.S. also leads the world in sales of the highest-priced works.

Bain now predicts that China will account for only 35% to 40% of global luxury goods consumption by 2030 — up only slightly from current levels. Overall luxury spending in China is about 40% below where it was in 2019, according to Bain. Luxury sales in the U.S. last year totaled $80 billion, to China’s $52 billion, Bain found.

While analysts and economists say China will still be a major source of luxury and wealth growth in the coming years, the U.S. has become both the dominant market and source of growth for the high-net-worth economy.

“The wealth creation opportunities in the U.S. are second to none globally,” Volek said.

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