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  February 8th, 2018 | Written by

World Bank Report Finds Rise in Global Wealth, but Inequality Persists

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  • World Bank measures nations’ natural capital, human capital, produced capital, and net foreign assets.
  • Human capital is the largest component of a nation’s wealth.
  • Natural capital makes up half the wealth in low-income countries.

Global wealth grew significantly over the past two decades but per capita wealth declined or stagnated in more than two dozen countries in various income brackets, says a new World Bank report. Going beyond traditional measures such as GDP, the report uses wealth to monitor countries’ economic progress and sustainability.

The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018 tracks the wealth of 141 countries between 1995 and 2014 by aggregating natural capital (such as forests and minerals), human capital (earnings over a person’s lifetime), produced capital (buildings, infrastructure, etc.), and net foreign assets. Human capital was the largest component of wealth overall while natural capital made up nearly half of wealth in low-income countries, the report found.

“By building and fostering human and natural capital, countries around the world can bolster wealth and grow stronger,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “The World Bank Group is accelerating its effort to help countries invest more and more effectively in their people. There cannot be sustained and reliable development if we don’t consider human capital as the largest component of the wealth of nations.”