We explain what wealth is in the economic, natural and personal aspect. We also tell you what it means to “generate wealth” and how it is measured.

Wealth can be thought of as both an individual issue and a collective one.

What is wealth?

Wealth, in general terms, is the abundance of resources. Whether it is about goods and things, moral and spiritual values, or any other referent, wealth is always the opposite of scarcity and poverty. It is a word from the Gothic reiksa voice that in the language of this ancient Germanic people meant “powerful”.

Wealth can be thought of both as an individual issue and as a collective one, that is, belonging to a group. Thus, the people or countries with the greatest accumulation of available resources are called “rich”, while those devoid of these elements are called “poor”. This does not mean that within a rich country there cannot be, paradoxically, poor people.

In areas other than economic the word “wealth” is also used, as a way of indicating the relative abundance of some valued element. Thus, for example, a person can have an “intellectual wealth”, if we consider that he is educated and handles many referents; Or likewise, an experience can awaken in us an “emotional richness” if it leads us to experience many different emotions.

They are synonymous with wealth: abundance, excess, ease, opulence, fertility. On the contrary, they are their antonyms: poverty, misery, lack, absence, scarcity, dearth.

See also: Purchasing power

economic wealth

In the economic field, wealth is understood as the availability of usable resources of a person, an organization or a country, and in the contemporary world this is expressed through available money, that is, monetary units that express accumulated value. In this context it is synonymous with “heritage”, “capital” or “hacienda”.

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Thus, one must differentiate between:

  • Gross wealth: the sum of the monetary value of all the available patrimony, that is, the sum of the value of all the goods, capital and assets that one possesses.
  • net wealth: the accumulated value that is obtained once the debts or liabilities are settled.

What does it mean to “build wealth”?

In the field of economics, wealth is not given, but must be made or generated. That is, it is obtained as a result of different types of actions or investments, whether of time, effort and/or capital, which results in a state of greater availability of resources than at the initial moment.

Although the methods and planning necessary to generate wealth are always the object of study, debate and questioning, both in today’s world and in previous times, the most usual is to understand the generation of wealth as the result of workthat is, of the production, distribution and commercialization of goods and services, in such a way that the result has a greater value than that of the elements necessary for its production.

For example, the value of a chair, when finished by the carpenter, sent to the store, and purchased by the consumer, is much greater than the cost of the wood, iron, and leather needed to make it.

More than the issue of how to generate wealth, the question of how to distribute it or how to use it to make the world a more just, equitable and virtuous place has been the subject of debate between the different schools of economic philosophy.

How is economic wealth measured?

The economic wealth of a person It is expressed in monetary units, that is, in sums of money. For this First, the calculation of equity is carried out.that is, the sum of all available goods and assets, both tangible and intangible, and debts and liabilities are deducted from the resulting figure. This means that if that person one day decided to sell absolutely everything he owns, he would obtain said total amount as a reward, and therefore that is his wealth.

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However, it is more complicated to do the same with nations and human groups. In these cases, wealth is normally measured through indicators that make it possible to establish comparisons between the capacity to generate resources of entire countries or regions. Such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP or GDP) or the Gross Domestic Product per capita (that is, when divided by the number of inhabitants).

The calculation of this indicator is quite complex, since it takes into account the total production of goods and services of a country, to express it in a number (usually millions of dollars). With the latter, the economic performance of a country can be studied, for example, by comparing it with that obtained in previous years, or with that obtained in the same period by other countries in the region.

wealth and poverty

wealth poverty
Wealth is associated with abundance and poverty with precariousness and scarcity

Wealth and poverty are antagonistic concepts. The first is associated with abundance and the second with precariousness and scarcity, so that the first is a desirable state and the second one that makes existence complicated. Even so, the parameters to determine when there is wealth and when there is poverty are not usually completely exact and universal.

In general, wealth is understood as the availability of resources beyond what is immediately necessary to subsist, and Poverty is defined as the inability to achieve a minimum amount of essential resources.

Thus, for example, a rich person is one who has many more resources than they need to survive, and therefore can afford luxuries and make riskier life choices. On the other hand, a poor person is one who does not have the necessary resources to survive or who barely manages to come close to that necessary amount, and who therefore lives a life of deficiencies, absences and effort.

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More in: Poverty

Natural wealths

natural wealth
Natural wealth sustains the economic foundation of each nation.

When speaking of natural wealth, generally allusion is made in a more or less vague way to the totality of the exploitable natural resources available in the territory of a country or in a given geographical region. These resources or wealth serve as raw material for different industrial and productive processes, and may be renewable or finite, but they support the economic foundation of each nation.

Thus, for example, a nation exploits the soil to obtain food, the subsoil to extract minerals, oil and precious stones, and its watercourses for fishing, sports and tourist recreation. All these elements arranged by nature and the geological history of the planet constitute its natural wealth, that is, its economic resources of natural origin.

inner wealth

The term “inner wealth”, as well as “spiritual wealth”, is commonly used in the areas of self-help, psychology and morality, to refer to the complexity and abundance of the internal world of each individual, that is, to the amount of knowledge, values, reflections and intuitions that a person has and that make life more enjoyable, pleasant or acceptable.

Inner riches do not necessarily have to do with worldly riches (such as economic wealth), and it is therefore possible for a very wealthy person to have a spiritual poverty that makes their existence more painful. inner wealth it is the fruit of the cultivation of the spirit, which is done through religious, social, intellectual and affective practicesthat is, through cultivating the internal world.

Continue with: Quality of life


  • “Wealth” on Wikipedia.
  • “Wealth” in the Dictionary of the Language of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “Information on Wealth” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “What makes a nation rich?” in La Pluma Económica from the University of San Buenaventura de Cali (Colombia).
  • “Beyond GDP, how is the wealth of a country measured?” in Politics, economy and power (Argentina).
  • “Inner wealth” by Conchi Aguilera in El Correo de Andalucía (Spain).