Date
6 December 2019
Beijing boasts the largest number of wealthy families in China, according to Hurun. Photo: Reuters
Beijing boasts the largest number of wealthy families in China, according to Hurun. Photo: Reuters

Shifts in China’s wealth landscape

For the year ended 2018, Hurun has pointed out some interesting changes in China’s wealth distribution.

While the number of Chinese families owning at least 6 million yuan (US$853,500) has increased, the population of super and ultra-rich families has shrunk, according to the China-based research house and wealth tracker.

Hurun divides Chinese households into four groups, namely rich families (6 million yuan assets), high-net worth families (10 million yuan assets), ultra-high net worth families (assets worth 100 million yuan) and international high net worth families (assets of US$30 million).

By the end of last year, there were 3.92 million rich families, 1.58 million high-net worth families, 105,000 ultra-high net worth families and 69,000 international high-net worth families.

The number of rich families increased 1.3 percent last year while the other three groups showed contraction of 1.8 percent, 5.1 percent and 6 percent respectively.

How should we interpret this data?

Last year, the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets slumped 24.6 percent and 34.4 percent respectively, against the backdrop of US-China trade tensions and weakening global economic growth. As a result, China’s overall stock market capitalization dropped by 14 trillion yuan.

As the super-rich tend to allocate more assets to the stock market and many wealthy people are themselves major shareholders of listed companies, the very-high net worth people are naturally more affected.

But at the same time, as China’s economy continued to grow against all odds, the number of middle class families kept swelling, as reflected in the gain of rich families as defined by Hurun.

This year, the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets have jumped 17.3 percent and 38.4 percent respectively so far. A rebound in the number of super and ultra-rich families is almost a given.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 21

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist