According to Credit Suisse, the median wealth is equal 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 (almost 128,000 euros, at the average exchange rate of 2021), this was last year, the median wealth of adults in France, analyzed by Credit Suisse in its annual Global Wealth Report published on Tuesday. So this means that half of them have more and the other half have less. If we take the average wealth (the total wealth divided by the number of adults), the amount is greater because it exceeds 322,000 dollars (285,000 euros in 2021). This difference is explained by the weight of very large fortunes that pull the average upwards.
A median wealth increased by 9% a year. In 2020, Credit Suisse estimates the median wealth of the French at $132,959, or $12,000 less than last year.
What does the French heritage consist of? Unlike some of our neighbors like the British or the Swiss for example, it is the value of non-financial assets (usually real estate) that represents a large part of our wealth. They represent 60% of our wealth against 40% for financial assets. If the latter tend to increase in relative terms of our wealth after falling to 35% in 2007, they remain below the level of 2000 when they represent 46.2% of gross wealth. But in the meantime, rising real estate prices have reduced their weight.
A Frenchman is 2.3 times “richer” than a German
With around $145,000 in assets, where does the “median French” compare to other residents of the world’s major economies? It’s surprisingly high. More so in countries with more dynamic economies and lower unemployment rates. The median British wealth for example is 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.
So a median Frenchman is about 1.5 times richer than an American and 2.3 times more than a German.
How to explain this surprising data? First, because the wealth is better distributed in France, according to the Credit Suisse report. In France, the wealth held by the richest 1% represents 22.3% of total wealth, compared to 31.7% in Germany or 35.1% in the United States. The most unequal countries are India (40.6%), Brazil (49.3%) and Russia (58.6%).
Average wealth (which ignores distribution) is also more favorable in the United States (579,050 dollars) than in France (322,070). This means that very large wealth (relatively much) pulls down average wealth. Meanwhile worldwide, one in two Americans owns less than 93,271 dollars.
More French owners
If the wealth distribution effect is at play in Germany, it does not explain the significant gap. The average German inheritance (not just the median) remains lower than the French because it is 257,000 dollars, or 65,000 less than the French. This has been a constant for decades. A 2013 study by the Bundesbank already revealed that German households are less “rich” than French ones. This caused a lot of ink to flow across the Rhine. Newspapers questioned the accuracy of the study.
And yet, every year, the Credit Suisse Wealth Report confirms this wealth gap between neighbors across the Rhine. It comes down to one explanation: real estate. When Germany took over France for a decade, prices remained cheaper across the Rhine than at home. According to the real estate group Liberkeys, the average price per m² for an apartment is 4008 euros in France against 2959 euros in Germany. In the middle of owning a 60 m² in France makes you a person “richer” than the same property in Germany. Although it remains partly virtual.
Another element is the part of the owners of the population. According to the data Eurostat, 63.6% of French households own their home in 2020 compared to 50.5% of German households. The difference in wealth between the Germans and the French is largely due in part to the level of real estate prices.