Asia to Lead the World’s ‘Rich List’

Asia is poised to become the world's "economic center of gravity," with Singapore set to have the richest residents in the world by 2050.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jeremy Woodhouse

Singapore city skyline at dusk

Asia is poised to become the world’s “economic center of gravity,” with Singapore set to have the richest residents in the world by 2050, with an estimated per capita income of $137,710, according to the 2012 Wealth Report [PDF] compiled by Knight-Frank and Citi Private Bank.

The report predicts that within 40 years, Asia will boast wealthier residents than any other continent, with Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea topping the list of richest locales. The only Western nation to make the top five is the U.S., which is expected to be at its strongest economically in 2016, with an estimated per capita income of $100,802 by 2050.

(MORE: The Next Big Thing in Asia: Butlers)

India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mongolia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka all make the fast-growing list. (Nigeria, Iraq and Egypt made the the top 10 list, too.) By contrast, Japan’s population will have the slowest economic growth over the next forty years, followed by the Old World economies of Spain, France, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

(MORE: Made Your Millions in China? Now It’s Time to Move Overseas)

CNN notes that some of the West’s super-rich are already crossing the Pacific, in anticipation of the “new Asian Century.” Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, moved to Singapore in 2009 and reounced his U.S. citizenship. Jim Rogers, the co-founder of the Quantum Fund, did the same and is now teaching his daughters Mandarin. “I’m preparing them for the 21st century by knowing Asia and by speaking perfect Mandarin,” he told CNN.

The report notes that tough economic times over the past few years has not affected the rise of centa-millionaires, people with more than $100 million in assets. Today there are 63,000, up 29 percent since 2006.

However, rapidly rising GDP does not tell us much about the distribution of wealth. Many of the richest countries in the world today — Qatar, for example — have tremendous wealth gaps. “The distribution of that wealth will be dictated by political factors as much as the economic process itself,” noted Willem Buiter, Citi’s Chief Economist, in the report.

MORE: Defying Gravity: Is Asia’s Economic Miracle About to Stall?