World's Most Unequal Countries

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The 1% controls the highest share of wealth in these ten countries.
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Video concept, written, narrated and produced by Bryce Plank
Video co-designed and edited by Robin West

These are the 10 countries with the highest percentage of total wealth in the hands of their top 1%.

Some poorer countries that possibly could have made the list are not included because there is not enough financial data to estimate household wealth in an accurate way.

Tenth is Mexico. The bottom ten percent on the Mexican income ladder accounts for just 1.3% of the country's resources, while the top 10% accounts for almost 36%. Carlos Slim, the nation’s wealthiest man, has a net worth equal to 6% of the total yearly economy of the entire nation.

The 9th nation is South Africa, the second largest economy on the continent behind Nigeria. 26% percent of the population lives below the poverty line and 27% are unemployed. A high crime rate and ineffective governance hurts investment opportunities throughout the country.

Number 8 on this list is the United States. Americans hold more than 33% of all wealth. The U.S. has 13 million millionaires. But it also has 85 million adults—a third of its population—who own less than $10,000 in assets.

Chile, 7th on this list, is the most developed country in Latin America. An efficient judiciary helped it become the 7th freest economy in the world. But wealth is flowing mostly to the top, as 60% of Chileans rely on government assistance.

China’s 1% controls the 6th highest percentage in the world, but it's becoming less unequal as it works hard to build a thriving middle class and root out rampant corruption by its elites. But with 244 billionaires, just like the United States, whose success it seeks to emulate, it is allowing too much wealth concentration at the very top.

Number 5 is Brazil. It entered a recession in 2014 which has amplified inequality there. The economy is top heavy, with 47 billionaires—that’s more than Japan, an economy more than twice as large as Brazil’s. Members of Brazil’s national congress make the equivalent of $140,000 USD a year, 35 times the $4,000 the average worker takes home.

Indonesia, 4th on this list, has the second-fastest growing economy of any G-20 nation behind China as it continues emerging from the three-decades long dictatorship of Sukharno, which ended in 1998. With 32 billionaires, that’s far too much wealth in the hands of so few for an economy with under $1 trillion of annual production.

Number 3 is Thailand. A gorgeous country, Thailand earns nearly twice as much of its GDP from tourism compared to the worldwide average. This could be a contributing factor to its thriving shadow economy, which also ranks among the highest in the world. With so much crime, corruption, and tax avoidance, it makes it quite difficult to solve inequality.

The second-most top-heavy country is India. With just $600 USD of wealth per adult, it is by far the poorest country on this list. Its 80 billionaires—far too many for that degree of poverty—proves it’ll be a long road toward creating a just and equitable society. Still, with an annual growth rate of 7%, it’s quickly gaining the tools it needs to begin tackling its widespread poverty problem.

And the country with the highest proportion of wealth in the hands of a very few, is Russia. As the country emerged from decades of communism after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was highly vulnerable to thieves. And that’s exactly who took power at the turn of the century: the world’s most powerful thief, Vladimir Putin. Putin’s policies placed immense wealth in the hands of a very closed circle of people, to the detriment of everyone else in his country.

If you found this video informative, give it a like and a share to help more people find it, and make sure to watch our follow-up ranking of the most equal countries. To learn more about how the wealthy here in the United States rig the political system for their own selfish ends, I recommend Dark Money by Jane Mayer, which you can listen to with a 30-day free trial of, link below. It’s a win-win: you get an awesome audiobook and you get to help support the work we do, as we earn a little bit each time someone signs up through that link.

Thanks for watching. Until next time, for TDC, I’m Bryce Plank.