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Asia’s rapid rise in newly rich

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

The U.S. still houses the highest number of millionaires and billionaires in the world, but Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East are minting new wealth at a faster clip.

A new report on global wealth by The Boston Consulting Group shows that overall, global private wealth grew by 7.8 percent in 2012. By comparison, in 2011 it rose by 3.6 percent and in 2010, by 7.3 percent.

In North America, wealth increased by 7.8 percent in 2012, compared with 13.2 percent in Eastern Europe and 10.5 percent in Latin America. The Asia-Pacific region (minus Japan) saw the biggest jump in wealth, at 13.8 percent growth.

The highest density of millionaires was in the Arab state of Qatar, where 143 out of every 1,000 households have private wealth of at least $1 million, according to the report. It's followed by Switzerland, with 116 out of every 1,000. Kuwait, Hong Kong and Singapore round out the list of the top five regions with the densest population of millionaires.

North America, Western Europe and Japan -- areas the report calls "old-world regions" -- owe their increased wealth to the stock market rebound. "New-world regions," such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, saw higher growth from new wealth and will account for nearly 70 percent of the global growth over the next five years, according to the report.

In 2012, the U.S. had 5.9 million households with investable assets (minus a primary residence) of $1 million or more, followed by Japan with 1.5 million and China with 1.3 million. The report estimates that China will surpass Japan in the number of millionaire households sometime this year. Globally, there were 13.8 million households worth $1 million or more in 2012, or nearly one-tenth of the population.

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