How much money you need to be in South Africa’s richest 1%

 ·18 May 2023

Knight Frank’s Wealth Sizing Model revealed how much money individuals need to be among the top 1% of earners across 25 countries – including South Africa.

The “Top 1%” became a notable term during the global financial crisis, but the wealth needed to join their ranks varies considerably from country to country, said the report.

The sharp variation in these countries’ requirements to be among their top 1% underscores how the pandemic and surging living costs widened the gap between rich and poor nations.

For example, Monaco’s entry point – the wealthiest nation in the comparison – of $12.4 million (R237.6 million) is over 600 times more than Kenya’s entry point of only $20,000 (R383,000).

Monaco’s entry point is also 200 times more than the $57,000 (R1.09 million) needed to join the 1% in the Philippines.

South Africa is among the poorer nations in the comparison, after the Philippines. The report showed you need a net wealth of $109,000 (R2.08 million) to join the top 1% of the wealthiest South Africans.

In contrast, following Monaco, making up the top five wealthiest nations are Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States (US).

Switzerland and Australia have the next highest entry points after Monaco, requiring a net worth of $6.6 million (R126 million) and $5.5 million (R105 million), respectively.

In the United States, $5.1 million (R97.7 million) will get you over the threshold to fall into the country’s wealthiest 1% of people.

Singapore has the highest threshold for Asia, with $3.5 million (R67 million) required to be in the top 1% ahead of Hong Kong’s $3.4 million (R65 million).

For the UAE, Middle East’s highest entry, the level required is $1.6 million (R31 million). Brazil is top of our Latin American markets with a $430,000 (R8.2 million) threshold.

To put the wealth of these top countries into perspective, a recent study conducted by analysts estimated that South Africans earning the average salary in the country would have to work for at least 68 years to become a dollar millionaire ($1 million).

This means the average South African would have to work for 843 years to be accepted into Monaco’s top 1%, 449 years to be in Switzerland’s top 1%, and 374 years to be among the USA’s wealthiest 1%.

According to the World Bank, lower-income households worldwide are feeling the burden of inflation, which has forced them to spend a far larger share of their income on food and housing.

Meanwhile, the world’s 500 richest people have added almost $600 billion to their combined fortunes in 2023.

“Growing inequality globally could see a greater focus on this group – particularly in the sights for greater taxation on assets and even emissions,” said Knight Frank’s Flora Harley.

The infographic below shows the 25 countries Knight Frank’s Wealth Sizing Model compared and how much money individuals need to be among the top 1%.

Read: Meet the South African bosses who earn over R240,000 a day

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