The number of Chilean millionaires more than doubled the past five years, while average family incomes grew little, according to figures developed by the from Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
In 2005 Chile had 4,049 families with more than one million US dollars in liquid assets, a 53% increase compared to 2000.
The richest of the rich, defined as having more than 5 million US dollars in liquid assets, belong to 632 families, 65% more than in 2000.
In the last five years the richest one percent of Chile's population went from an annual family income of 12 million to 19 million US dollars. Meanwhile the average monthly income of a Chilean family grew from 950 to 1300 US dollars.
Most significant is the increase of families with liquid assets between 100,000 and one million US dollars. In 2005, 70,244 families belonged to this category, which constituted a 132% increase compared to five years earlier.
Adolfo Ibáñez University professor Gonzalo Jiménez explains the development: "It is the nature of an emerging economy with a lot of money to generate this kind of wealth in a small amount of time."
BCG said Chile's millionaires tend to spend their money on luxury consumer goods.
The number of privately owned helicopters in Chile, for example, grew 30% to 150. Each helicopter is worth between 350,000 and one million US dollars.
Luxury car sales (cars worth more than 100,000 US dollars) have gone up 82%, while the average size of an upper class house has increased to 700 square meters, compared to 400 square meters 10 years ago.
By Morten Szygenda The Santiago Times