Average American net worth #4 in the world; median net worth #19

In another case of mean versus median, looking at the average or median net worth of Americans leads to different conclusions:

Americans’ average wealth tops $301,000 per adult, enough to rank us fourth on the latest Credit Suisse Global Wealth report.

But that figure doesn’t tell you how the middle class American is doing.

Americans’ median wealth is a mere $44,900 per adult — half have more, half have less. That’s only good enough for 19th place, below Japan, Canada, Australia and much of Western Europe…

Super rich Americans skew average wealth upwards. The U.S. has 42% of the world’s millionaires, and 49% of those with more than $50 million in assets.

Both figures are true but they tell very different stories. America at #4 or #19?

Some other interesting tidbits later in the article:

1. Homeownership helps other countries pass the U.S. in median wealth since some have higher rates of homeownership (like Ireland and Spain) and their housing markets didn’t experience such a bubble.

2. Americans can borrow money more easily than some. This means we might be able to get our hands on more but leads to more debt which subtracts from our net worth.

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