China to see the world’s biggest millionaire exodus this year, new study shows

Wealth

Guests are seen in the J Hotel located in the Shanghai Tower, in Shanghai on June 23, 2021.
Hector Retamal | Afp | Getty Images

China, with the world’s second-largest economy and the second-highest population, will again see the biggest exodus of millionaires this year, according to new research. 

According to a report by investment migration consultancy Henley & Partners, China is expected to lose the largest number of dollar millionaires this year due to migration, when compared to any other country. 

Data from the firm showed that a net 10,800 high-net-worth individuals migrated out of China in 2022, and another net 13,500 are expected to leave this year. 

This is not an issue that started with the coronavirus pandemic, and has been going on for the last 10 years. China has seen the biggest departure of millionaires each year for the past decade, causing general wealth growth in the country to slow down, Andrew Amoils, head of research at global wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth which helped create the report, said in an accompanying statement.

“The recent outflows could be more damaging than usual. China’s economy grew strongly from 2000 to 2017, but wealth and millionaire growth in the country has been negligible since then (when measured in U.S.-dollar terms).” 

Other big losers 

Second to China, Henley & Partners forecasts India to lose a net 6,500 millionaires this year, a net 1,000 decrease from the millionaires that left the country in 2022. 

“Prohibitive tax legislation coupled with convoluted, complex rules relating to outbound remittances that are open to misinterpretation and abuse, are but a few issues that have triggered the trend of investment migration from India,” said Sunita Singh-Dalal, partner of private wealth and family offices at law firm Hourani, in the same report. 

However, Amoils highlighted that these outflows should not be a matter of concern since “India produces far more new millionaires than it loses to migration.” 

Other Asian nations are expected to see minaires leave their countries too. 

Hong Kong is expected to lose a net 1,000 millionaires this year, and South Korea and Japan could lose 800 and 300, respectively. Reports suggest residents of Hong Kong left the city in droves last year — due to Covid-19 restrictions and what they see as an erosion of democratic norms. 

Despite political unrest and economic uncertainty from Moscow’s war on Ukraine, Russia is only expected to lose a net 3,000 millionaires this year, a sharp decline from 8,500 in 2022. 

Russia takes fourth place in Henley & Partners’ ranking, after the United Kingdom which could lose a net 3,200 millionaires this year, double than what it lost the year before. 

“Brexit has made the UK less hospitable and welcoming to high-net-worth individuals. It’s now harder for them to move between the UK and EU countries,” Trevor Williams, visiting professor at the University of Derby and former chief economist at Lloyds Bank Commercial said in the report.

“Evidence shows that the UK’s share of inward investment into Europe has declined since it left the EU, with Germany and France benefiting.”  

Eyes set on these countries

Australia could outrank the United Arab Emirates this year in welcoming the highest net number of millionaires this year. Australia is expected to see an influx of a net 5,200 millionaires, while the UAE comes in second with 4,500. Singapore ranks third and could see a net 3,200 millionaires setting up homes in the city-state. 

Western nations, as a whole, remain an attractive destination for millionaires, according to the research, with the U.S. (2,100), Switzerland (1,800), and Canada (1,600) all clinching spots in the top 10. 

“There’s been a steady growth in millionaire migration over the past decade, with global figures for 2023 and 2024 expected to be 122,000 and 128,000, respectively,” Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, said.

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