A new report indicates that the size and distribution of the world's built asset worth is undergoing rapid change, with total value surging in recent years and China overtaking the US to assume top position among the table of nations.
According to the Arcadis Global Built Asset Wealth Index 2015, the aggregate wealth of the world’s built assets has risen by a net total of US$8 trillion since 2013 to reach more than $218 trillion. This means that the world’s built assets are worth more than $30,000 per capita for the entire global population.
The index seeks to calculate the distribution of world’s physical built assets, assessing the value of buildings and infrastructure in 32 different nations collectively accounting for roughly 87 per cent of global GDP.
China has emerged as the country with the largest built asset worth, valued by the Arcadis index at approximately US$47.6 trillion, as compared to a figure of $36.8 trillion for the US.
The Middle Kingdom has primarily amassed its vast bounty of infrastructure and buildings since the turn of the century, with built asset investment since 2000 exceeding all other economies combined to reach a total of $33 trillion.
Arcadis analysts expect this trend to continue, with China’s stock of built assets projected to hit $97 trillion by 2025, as compared to $45 trillion for the US at the same time.
“China’s heavily investment-dependent growth model means that by 2025 its built asset stock will be worth over double that of the US, and will exceed in size those of the next four economies combined,” said the report.
This breakneck accumulation of built assets is reflected by the country’s level of investment in infrastructure, which stands at approximately nine per cent of GDP, as compared to the United States, where the figure currently sits at around two per cent.
Other countries hosting a wealth of built assets include Japan, which takes third place with total value of $18 trillion, India, in fourth place with total value of $15 trillion, and Germany, with built assets worth $10 trillion.
National rankings of total asset value fail to reflect per capita wealth, however, where smaller economies dominate the list. The oil rich peninsular Arab state of Qatar has ousted Singapore from the number one position in terms of built asset wealth per capita, with a figure of US$198,000 as compared to US$192,000 for the preceding top spot holder.
Hong Kong takes third place for built asset wealth per capita with a figure of nearly $160,000, followed by Japan and the UAE in fourth and fifth place, with per capital built asset wealth of $143,642 and $140,290 respectively.
Australia fares extremely well among developed economies when it comes to built asset wealth per capita, taking sixth place with per capital wealth of $138,523.
The strong performance of Australia on the per capita built asset wealth table could be related to stalling growth among other developed economies, with some even undergoing considerable levels of net disinvestment since the turn of the century – including major Eurozone economy France. In Europe, the only countries that have achieved increase in their stock of built assets are Poland, Spain, Belgium and Turkey.