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publication January 30, 2018

Changing Wealth of Nations 2018

Overview

Countries regularly track gross domestic product (GDP) as an indicator of their economic progress, but not wealth—the assets such as infrastructure, forests, minerals, and human capital that produce GDP. Wealth accounts allow countries to take stock of their assets to monitor the sustainability of development, an urgent concern today for all countries. 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.


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The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018:
Building a Sustainable Future

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Key findings from the report

  • Global wealth grew significantly over the past two decades with middle-income countries catching up to high-income countries.
  • Nearly two dozen countries saw their per capita wealth stagnate or decline. A decline in per capita wealth implies that the assets that are critical for generating income are being depleted.
  • The report includes estimates of human capital for the first time. Human capital is the largest component of global wealth, pointing to the need to invest in people.
  • Natural capital makes up nearly half of the wealth in low income countries. More efficient, long-term management of natural resources is key to sustainable development.

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The Wealth of Nations