One in two French people owns more than 128,000 euros, twice the median wealth of Germans

According to Credit Suisse, the median wealth is equivalent to 128,000 euros in France against 82,500 euros in the United States and less than 55,000 euros in Germany.

144,983 dollars (nearly 128,000 euros, at the average exchange rate of 2021), it was last year, the median wealth of adults in France, evaluated by Credit Suisse in its annual Global Wealth Report published on Tuesday. This therefore means that half of them have more and the other half less. If we take the average wealth (the total wealth divided by the number of adults), the sum is much larger since it exceeds 322,000 dollars (285,000 euros in 2021). This difference is explained by the weight of very large fortunes which pulls the average upwards.

A median wealth up sharply by 9% over one year. In 2020, Credit Suisse estimated the median wealth of the French at $132,959, or $12,000 less than last year.

What is the heritage of the French made up of? Unlike some of our neighbors like the British or the Swiss for example, it is the value of non-financial assets (mainly real estate) that represents the major part of our wealth. They represent 60% of our wealth against 40% for financial assets. If the latter tend to increase in relative terms in our wealth after having fallen to 35% in 2007, they remain below their level of 2000 when they represented 46.2% of gross wealth. But in the meantime, the surge in real estate prices has reduced their weight.

A Frenchman 2.3 times “richer” than a German

With nearly $145,000 in assets, where does the “median Frenchman” stand compared to other inhabitants of the world’s major economies? It is surprisingly very high. Much more than countries with more dynamic economies and lower unemployment rates. The median wealth of the British is for example 140,299 dollars according to Credit Suisse. In Japan 134,919 dollars, in Italy 117,224 dollars, in Spain 107,090 dollars and even only 93,271 dollars in the United States and 61,741 dollars in Germany.

Median wealth per adult according to Credit Suisse
Median wealth per adult according to Credit Suisse © Credit Suisse

A median Frenchman is therefore virtually 1.5 times richer than an American and 2.3 times more than a German.

How to explain these surprising data? First, because wealth is better distributed in France, notes the Credit Suisse report. In France, the wealth held by the wealthiest 1% represents 22.3% of total wealth, compared to 31.7% in Germany or 35.1% in the United States. The most unequal countries being India (40.6%), Brazil (49.3%) and Russia (58.6%).

The average wealth (which does not take into account the distribution) is also much more favorable in the United States (579,050 dollars) than in France (322,070). This means that very large fortunes (relatively numerous) pull up the average wealth. While globally, one in two Americans owns less than 93,271 dollars.

More French owners

If the wealth distribution effect plays with Germany, it does not explain the significant gap. The average German heritage (not only median) remains lower than the French since it is 257,000 dollars, or 65,000 less than the French. This has been a constant for several decades. A 2013 study by the Bundesbank already revealed that German households were less “rich” than the French. This had caused a lot of ink to flow across the Rhine. Newspapers questioning the accuracy of the study.

And yet, year after year, the Credit Suisse Wealth Report confirms this wealth gap between the neighbors across the Rhine. It comes down to one explanation: real estate. If Germany has caught up with France for a decade, prices remain even more affordable across the Rhine than at home. According to the real estate group Liberkeys, the average price of one m² for an apartment is 4008 euros in France against 2959 euros in Germany. Between owning a 60 m² in France makes you someone “richer” than the same property in Germany. Even if it remains partly virtual.

The other element is the share of owners in the population. According to the data Eurostat, 63.6% of French households owned their home in 2020 compared to 50.5% of German households. The difference in wealth between Germans and French is therefore largely due in part to the level of real estate prices.

Frederic Bianchi

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