If wealth measures the health of the middle class, the United States is in trouble
The United States is the richest country on Earth. The US has the most millionaires and the most billionaires; in fact 28% of the world’s millionaires are from the United States. Given that the US is the wealthiest country with all these rich people, if you believe in the theory of trickledown economics it would stand to reason that the US also has the wealthiest middle class. Well, guess again.
The wealth of the middle class is one of the best ways to measure a society’s prosperity. Unfortunately if you find yourself in the middle of the road in some countries, you’re likely moving down rather than up while the middle disappears altogether.
The United States ranks #26 in the world when it comes to middle class wealth and declining further. Canada ranks higher, but its middle class is also in decline. To my surprise, the nation with the wealthiest middle class is Australia, roughly five times higher than that of the United States.
So how does this happen, why is the US so far behind? Well, there are a number of factors behind these numbers. For starters the good ole US of A has no universal healthcare, it’s incredibly hard to gain or maintain a level of wealth if you get a prolonged illness.
Let’s not forget the decline in union membership. Unions used to embrace close to 30% of the workforce, these days that number is close to 10%. Other major factors include a dismal minimum wage, high levels of student loan debt and a deregulated Wall Street and banking system.
On the other hand, when you reverse these influences with a strong banking system, a decent minimum wage and free healthcare, you get Australia,
Wealth is measured by the total sum of assets minus liabilities; this chart represents the median middle class wealth per family.
Median Middle Class Wealth
|United Arab Emerites|
Data from the global wealth data book