June 27, 2007 / 6:20 PM / 12 years ago

World's wealthy worth $37.2 trillion: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The wealth of the world’s rich and super rich surged 11.2 percent to $37.2 trillion last year but the elite group gave less than 1 percent of their net worth to charity, a study released on Wednesday said.

For the first time, the 11th annual World Wealth Report detailed philanthropic giving, and estimated that high net worth individuals turned over $285 billion to charitable causes in 2006. That’s equivalent to someone worth $100,000 giving about $766 to charity, or 0.76 percent of their wealth.

The 11th annual report said, however, that rich people — led by the ultra wealthy — are increasing the financial resources, time and thought that they donate to charities.

Merrill Lynch & Co., the world’s largest brokerage, and Capgemini, a global consulting company, released the wealth report, which showed the largest growth of high net worth individuals happening in Singapore and India. Singapore’s wealthy population rose 21.2 percent and India’s grew 20.5 percent.

High net worth individuals are defined as people with at least $1 million in net assets excluding their primary residences. The double-digit growth of their assets — a pace unseen in several years — was fueled by gains from emerging economies such as India and China and wealth accumulation by the ultra rich.

The ranks of the world’s ultra rich — individuals with at least $30 million in assets not including their primary residences — increased 11.3 percent to 94,970, the report said. Total wealth accumulation for this group rose last year by 16.8 percent to $13.1 trillion, the report said.

The report estimated that there were 9.5 million people worldwide with at least $1 million in net assets.

The United States has the most wealthy people, followed by Japan and then Germany, according to the report’s researchers.

Merrill Lynch and Capgemini said they examined the “investments of passion” of the wealthy and found that luxury collectibles such as vintage yachts and automobiles selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars were among the top items.

The report also said Boeing Co.’s wide-body private jets are being customized at about $150 million each as mobile mansions.

In 2006, wealthy people shifted more of their money into real estate investments, at times liquidating some of their holdings in hedge funds to do this, the report said.

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