The Worldwide One Percenters

We’ve been hearing a lot about “the one percenter” – the level of income required to be in the top one percent. Of course, this amount changes depending on the country you live in.

The one-percenters threshold for each country, from lowest to highest, is shown in the following table (all figures translated into U.S. dollars adjusted for purchasing power parity):

CountryAnnual Income
South Africa$162,000
United Kingdom$290,000
United States$478,000
United Arab Emirates$891,000

An article in Bloomberg notes that different markets vary widely in terms of common expenses. For instance, to be one of the top 1% most expensive homes in Monaco, you would have to shell out $26.4 million, far above number two on the list: Singapore, at $6.8 million. As comparison, in Cape Town, South Africa and Mumbai, India a one-percenter home is $600,000.

If the one-percenters wanted to hire a live-in nanny, the average cost in Los Angeles would be $83,200, well above the $41,000 cost in New York, or $40,000 in Beijing, London and Vancouver. The average cost for a live-in nanny in Paris is $48,000.

The interesting thing about these numbers is that most of our tax policy assumes that one-percenters are “super rich”. Granted, while people earning these incomes in these various countries are quite comfortable, but should we call them “super rich”? It might be more helpful if tax policy changed the definition of “super rich” to the upper one-tenth of one percent, or even one-hundredth.