Global Wealth Grew 10.6% in 2021, the Fastest Rate in More Than a Decade

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Strong stock markets helped propel global wealth creation, according to Boston Consulting Group.

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Despite the pandemic and its economic impact, total global wealth increased 10.6% year over year to US$530 trillion in 2021, the fastest rate of growth in more than a decade, according to the latest data by Boston Consulting Group.

The net growth, at US$26.2 trillion, was the most in about 20 years, according to Anna Zakrzewski, managing director at the consultancy and lead author of the report.

The rapid wealth creation during the year was primarily driven by global stock markets. Due to healthy corporate profits, the S&P 500 index soared by 26.9% in 2021, beyond a record level already set  in 2020, according to the report released last week.

Real assets—or physical goods such as  real estate, wine, art, and watches—also remained resilient, Zakrzewski says.

Demand for real assets surged by 9.4%, or US$22 trillion, bringing the total wealth in this category to US$256 trillion by the end of 2021. Real assets accounted for nearly half of total global wealth.

“Despite concerns that investors might spend less on luxury assets during the Covid-19 pandemic and post-Covid, that part is still strong,” she says.

The new wealth creation was concentrated in North America, which amassed combined wealth of US$15 trillion during the year. North America accounted for 57% of the global share, according to the report.

Looking ahead, BCG predicts that wealth growth will slow to an average annual rate of 5.3% through 2026. 

That’s because of  high inflation and macro-political factors, such as a prolonged Russia-Ukraine war, the report said. In the U.S., headline inflation, which measures the change in the value of all goods, stood at 7% at the end of 2021—the  highest rate in 40 years. The group predicts that the inflation rate will remain elevated, ising as high as 5.5%, through 2022 before easing to a normal 2% rate from 2023 through 2026.

Global stock markets are also expected to stay healthy, with major indices forecasted to grow by about 7% annually through 2026, according to the report.