One percent of the world's adults owns 40 percent of all global assets, according to a United Nations report that describes a growing gap between rich and poor.
That chunk of the world's wealth is held by the 37 million people with a net worth of $500,000 or more, according to the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics of the U.N. University.
The report - the first by the United Nations to measure components of household wealth including homes, land, investments and debts - focuses on net worth rather than income, Bloomberg reports.
Researchers defined wealth as the value of physical and financial assets minus debts.
"Income inequality has been rising for the past 20-25 years and we think that is true for inequality in the distribution of wealth," said James Davies, a professor of economics at the University of Western Ontario, one of the report's authors.
"There is a whole group of problems in developing countries that make it difficult for people to build up assets, which are important, since life is so precarious," he said.
The gulf between rich and poor nations has long concerned politicians and economists, who say it is one of the biggest obstacles to development, Scotsman.com reports.
The world's total household wealth amounted to $125 trillion in the year 2000, a sum which, averaged out, should give every adult $20,500. But in some countries, average per capita wealth was below $2,000, while the richest ranked many times higher, thestar.com says.
According to the study, almost all of the world's richest individuals live in North America , Europe , and rich Asia-Pacific countries.
Each of these groups of countries contribute about one third of the members of the world's wealthiest 10 per cent.
China occupies much of the middle third of the global wealth distribution, while India, Africa, and low-income Asian countries dominate the bottom third.
A small number of countries, the study finds, account for most of the wealthiest 10 per cent in the world.
One-quarter are Americans and another 20 per cent are Japanese. These two countries feature even more strongly among the richest one per cent of individuals in the world, with 37 per cent residing in the USA and 27 per cent in Japan.
The researchers found that assets of USD 2,200 per adult placed a household in the top half of the world wealth distribution in the year 2000.
Using currency exchange rates, global household wealth amounted to USD 125 trillion in the year 2000, equivalent to roughly three times the value of total global production (GDP) or to USD 20,500 per person, Economictimes reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik