Chart of the Week December 3, 2021: Wealth Accumulation amidst the Pandemic: Rising Global Wealth Inequality?


Despite the economic ravage of the pandemic, the second half of 2020 saw an increase in global household wealth by USD28.7 trillion, 7.4% higher than the preceding year. However, not all countries witnessed this unprecedented trend of growing household wealth. Generous income support programmes and low interest rates enabled higher valuations of household wealth in developed economies, but such support measures fell short in developing economies. In this week’s Chart of the Week, we show the growing disparities in the household wealth of the ASEAN+3 region.


  • Developed economies in Asia such as Japan, Korea, and Singapore saw median wealth per adult growing substantially between end-2019 and end-2020.
  • Within ASEAN, median wealth per adult had decreased for Malaysia (-4.9%) and Thailand (-16.2%) and had increased for the Philippines (17.7%), Singapore (8.3%), Vietnam (8.2%), and Myanmar (8.0%).
  • The median adult in Japan, home to the wealthiest adults in our sample, is worth 76 adults in Laos in end-2020. In ASEAN, the median adult in Singapore is worth 54 adults in Laos.
  • The median income per adult in developed countries (such as Japan, Korea, and Singapore) has grown much faster than in developing countries (such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar), indicating growing wealth inequality in the region. Only two countries in ASEAN, Malaysia and Singapore registered median wealth per adult above the global average.
  • The GINI index, a measure of income inequality, increased for every country in the sample except for Thailand (-7.5) and Indonesia (-5.6). Brunei (12.9), Laos (8.5), and Myanmar (7.3) witnessed the largest rise in the GINI index. In 2020, Brunei alone exceeded the global GINI index.

Article By Wen Chong CHEAH

Graphic By Yixuan GE

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