Ranking countries by the size of their economies and their overall net wealth, the U.S. can be found ahead of China, usually followed by the UK, Japan, India or Germany. But sorting countries for their per-capita average wealth – or even for their median per-capita wealth – other countries come out on top. Using the two metrics, Switzerland was the richest country in the world with the highest average per-capita wealth of around US$674,000 per adult. The richest country measured by median per-capita wealth was Australia at around $238,000 in 2020.
Per-capita assets arguably show a more balanced picture of a country’s wealth by acknowledging that smaller countries with less citizens will of course accumulate less wealth in total. But calculating averages still does not take into account how wealth is distributed. Median wealth – the wealth of the person who shares their country with an equal amount of richer and poorer people – is different. It increases the more equal a country’s assets are distributed.
While the U.S. is the second wealthiest country for per-capita averages, Americans are not even in the top 20 for median wealth. Belgium, on the other hand, is listed seventh for average wealth, but second for median wealth, showing how it is a more egalitarian country in terms of wealth distribution.