A new research report by Credit Suisse says 1% of the population now owns half the world's wealth as global inequality grows.
"Middle class wealth has grown at a slower pace than wealth at the top end" according to chief executive of Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam. "This has reversed the pre-crisis trend which saw the share of middle-class wealth remaining fairly stable over time," he added.
The middle-income groups have been squeezed at the expense of the very rich, the report said. It also discovered that for the first time the middle class in China constituting 109 million individuals was more than the US statistic of 92 million.
According to the report, a person with a wealth of just $3,210 (£2,092, €2,813) would make it to the slot of wealthiest 50% of world citizens, while owning $68,800 would enable one to get a place in the top 10% and more than $759,900 would enable you to qualify to be in the top 1% of the wealth pyramid. Wealth is defined as the value of assets including stock market investments and property, excluding debt.
As a percentage of global adult population, just over 70% or about 3.4 billion people own wealth of less than $10,000, around 20% or about a billion people are in the $10,000-$100,000 range and the remaining 383 million adults that constitute 8% of the population own more than $100,000. This 8% includes 34 million US dollar millionaires, of which 123,800 individuals own more than $50m and nearly 45,000 adults have more than $100m.
According to the Credit Suisse survey, UK's dollar millionaires are up 68,000 from last year at 2.4 million. The UK also overtook Germany in the number of people owning more than $50m, up 400 from 2014 at a total of 5,400 individuals putting it in the third place, behind the US which had 61,300 and China which had 9,600 individuals.
The report said: "Wealth inequality has continued to increase since 2008, with the top percentile of wealth holders now owning 50.4% of all household wealth."
Markus Stierli, of the Credit Suisse Research Institute, said, "From 2008 onwards, wealth growth has not allowed middle-class numbers to keep pace with population growth in the developing world. Furthermore, the distribution of wealth gains has shifted in favour of those at higher wealth levels. These two factors have combined to produce a decline in the share of middle-class wealth."
"This is the latest evidence that extreme inequality is out of control. Are we really happy to live in a world where the top 1% own half the wealth and the poorest half own just 1%?" said Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam, the company that had warned of a similar situation occurring in 2016.
"The fact it has happened a year early – just weeks after world leaders agreed a global goal to reduce inequality – shows just how urgently world leaders need to tackle this problem," Goldring added.