China had the world's fastest growing group of millionaires last year, an elite club that rose 31 percent from 2008 to encompass 477,000 people.
The robust growth helped China overtake Britain as the world's fourth largest home to rich people, the Shanghai Daily reports. It also led Asia to exceed Europe in the rich population's total wealth.
In the World Wealth Report 2010, published by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth and Capgemini SA, the United States still leads with 2.87 million rich people, followed by Japan's 1.65 million and Germany's 860,000.
With the gradual recovery of the the global economy the population of rich individuals with assets of more than $1 million rose to 10 million globally.
"The rebound has been driven by emerging markets - especially India, China and Brazil - and the trend will continue," said Bertrand Lavayssire, managing director of Capgemini's Global Financial Services.
The world's richest people also got richer in 2009. Their combined assets gained 19 percent to US$39 trillion, the report said. The super-rich, or those with assets of US$30 million or more, represented only 0.9 percent of the global millionaires, but accounted for more than a third of the wealth.
The number of millionaires in the Asia-Pacific region rose 26 percent to 3 million, catching up to Europe for the first time. Wealth in the region surged 31 percent to $9.7 trillion, erasing the losses of 2008.
"Going forward, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations are expected to be the drivers of each region again in the future," the report said, "while China and India will lead the way in Asia with economic expansion likely to outpace more developed economies."
China, along with France, Japan, Britain and Germany, led in global spending last year, helping to boost global consumption confidence indexes. China also contributed greatly to the 49 percent growth in the global luxury market for such things as private airplanes, limousines and luxury housing.
The report attributed China's fast wealth growth to the government's economic momentum drives which generated a growth of 8.7 percent last year in gross domestic product. The nation's bustling economic growth was also seen in the arts market, which rose 25 percent to $830 million. The report found that high net worth individuals see themselves as “investor-collectors”, seeking out those items that are perceived to have tangible long-term value.
While the figures differ, the report's findings echo those of the 2010 Hurun Wealth Report, published in April, which found that the numbers of China's wealthy have rebounded after the losses of 2008.