Canada is richer than the US, according to a new wealth ranking — in fact, the US doesn't even make the top 10

  • The US is the third richest country in the world according to Credit Suisse's 2018 Global Wealth Report.
  • But when you take into account how much wealth the average American household has on hand, the US doesn't even make the top 10.
  • The report showcases how bad wealth disparity in the US has become.

The United States is home to more millionaires than any other country in the world. But whether the country is truly the wealthiest in the world depends on how you measure.

A report released by Credit Suisse in October says the US is "in the lead" when it comes to global wealth. But a closer look at the numbers in that report reveals a different story.

RELATED: Take a look at countries where you can retire 'happier' than in the U.S:

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16 countries where you can retire ‘happier’ than in the US

17. United States

Even though the U.S. ranks 17th, lower overall than 16 other countries on the list, there are other countries that aren’t faring as well. For example, France ranks 19th, Japan 22nd and the Slovak Republic 25th. Click through to see which countries ranked higher and how these options might affect your retirement plans.

16. Czech Republic

Jumping up two spots in the overall rankings year over year, the Czech Republic had the strongest performance in the Material Wellbeing subindex. Although the country’s Quality of Life subindex ranks 23rd, it’s an improvement from last year, reflecting both environmental improvements and an increase in the happiness indicator.

Related: The Best Retirement Plans All Have These 6 Features

15. Belgium

Belgium holds on to its 15th-place rank, partly because Belgium showed improvements in Finances even though it made no measurable progress in other subcategories. Although it maintained the same scores for both Quality of Life and Health, it declined in the area of Material Wellbeing.

14. Ireland

Ireland climbed two spots to 14th place overall due to improvements in three of its subindices: Material Wellbeing, Finances and Quality of Life. An improvement in environmental factors and happiness score indicators are responsible for the elevated Quality of Liferanking.

13. Austria

Austria ranks ninth overall in the study, due to suffering the decline in two of its subindices: Finances, ranking at 37th, and Health, at 11th. Both the Material Wellbeing and Quality of Life subindices remain the same since 2016 in fourth and eighth place, respectively.

Calculator: Find Out How Much Your Dollar Is Worth Around the World

12. Finland

Finland suffered a decline in all subindices except Quality of Life, which jumped up to second place. But this improvement is due to a decrease in the environmental factors indicator, not an increased happiness indicator.

See Where Finland Ranks: The Most Expensive Countries to Live In

11. Canada

Even though Canada showed progress in environmental factors, it suffered a Quality of Life score decrease, currently ranked 15th, due to a fall in the happiness indicator. The country ranked in the top 10 for Health and Finances, however.

Visit: These Are the Places in Canada Where Your Dollar Goes Further

10. Luxembourg

Luxembourg has ranked first overall for the past two years in the Health subindex. Areas of improvement in this year’s rankings include Material Wellbeing, with a fifth-place ranking and Quality of Life, with a 20th-place ranking.

Watch Out: Luxembourg and Other Countries With Higher Taxes Than America

9. Netherlands

Even though the Netherlands declined in three out of the four subindices, it improved in the Quality of Life subindex. Improvements in environmental factors, plus an elevated happiness indicator, are responsible for the Netherlands’ higher Quality of Lifeindex.

8. Denmark

Denmark improved its overall ranking this year by climbing four spots to No. 8. The country ranks first the in Quality of Life subindex.

See Where Denmark Ranks: Best and Worst Countries for the Rich

7. Germany

Germany ranks high for happiness and retirement for 2017, taking the seventh spot in the study. The country’s ranking features two top 10 spots in subindices: Material Wellbeing and Health, 10th place.

6. Australia

Australia’s overall ranking of sixth place is due to two top 10 finishes in Quality of Life, ninth place, and Finances, fifth place. The country also has the seventh-highest ranking of life expectancy overall.

Read: What the U.S. Can Learn From Australia and Other Countries’ Retirement Programs

5. New Zealand

New Zealand’s fifth-place overall ranking is due to its top 10 subindices: It ranks second in Finances and sixth in Quality of Life. Its happiness indicator rank is No. 8 overall.

See: How Expensive Is It to Live in New Zealand?

4. Sweden

Sweden has a No. 4 overall ranking due, in part, to its top 10 performance in these subindices: Health, fifth place; Quality of Life, fifth place; and Material Wellbeing, ninth place. The country also has the ninth-highest score overall for the happiness indicator.

Find Out: This U.S. State Is Richer Than Sweden

3. Iceland

Iceland ranks third overall and made its biggest improvements in the Material Wellbeing and Finance sectors. It ranks in the top 10 in two of the four subindices: Quality of Life, seventh place and Material Wellbeing, second place.

Related: That Dream Trip to Iceland Might Cost More Than You Think

2. Switzerland

Switzerland comes in second because it is the only other country besides Norway that ranks in the top 10 for all subindices. The country ranks fourth overall for the happiness indicator. 

Related: The World’s Best Tax Havens

1. Norway

Norway ranks first overall because it ranks in the top 10 in all subindices. It also has the highest rank for the happiness indicator— which is tied to the Quality of Life subindex — out of all of the countries in the study.

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While it's true that wealth in the US is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, it's not the richest when you compare the average amount of wealth per adult.

That prize goes to Switzerland, as you can see in the map below.

top 10 richest countries based on wealth per adult mapShayanne Gal/Business Insider

Wait a minute, you may be thinking: it looks like the US is richer than Canada. So what's with the headline?

The ranking above divides a country's overall wealth by the total population. That means it doesn't reflect the fact that the top 0.1% of US households hold as much wealth as the bottom 90%.

"The United States has the most members of the top 1% global wealth group, and currently accounts for 41% of the world's millionaires," the report notes. "Our research indicates that the United States added 878,000 new millionaires [since 2017] – representing around 40% of the global increase." 

A different, perhaps fairer, way to rank the richest countries in the world is to take a look at the countries where the greatest number of people are rich.

Credit Suisse ran those numbers too in order to compare how much wealth the median, middle-of-the-pack person has in every country.

In that ranking, Australians are the richest. And the US doesn't even make the top 10.

top 10 richest countries based on median wealth per adult mapShayanne Gal/Business Insider

The US has a median wealth of $61,667 per adult, which puts the country at number 18, well behind others including Ireland ($72,473), Taiwan ($78,177), and Korea ($65,463). Canada, on the other hand, comes in at number six, with an average wealth of $106,342 per adult.

Economists often point out the simple truth that having wealth makes it easier to get more wealth, which means those who have a lot of money pass on an advantage from one generation to the next

To adjust for that, economist Darrick Hamilton, a professor at The New School, recently proposed a kind of baby trust fund system. His idea is to give all kids in the US a chunk of cash when they're born, ranging between $500 and $60,000 based on their family's wealth. That would help give all American kids a fair shot at a prosperous future, he said. 

Read More: An economist has a wild proposal to give all kids in the US up to $60,000 at birth

"Wealth is the paramount indicator of economic security and well-being," Hamilton told a crowd at the TED Conferences headquarters in New York in September. "It is time to get beyond the false narrative that attributes inequalities to individual personal deficits while largely ignoring the advantages of wealth."

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