A billionaire is a person with a net worth of at least one billion (1,000,000,000, i.e., a thousand million) units of a given currency, usually of a major currency such as the United States dollar, euro, or pound sterling. The American business magazine Forbes produces a global list of known U.S. dollar billionaires every year and updates an Internet version of this list in real time.[1] The American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller became the world's first confirmed U.S. dollar billionaire in 1916, and still holds the title of history's second wealthiest individual.[2]

As of 2018, there are over 2,200 U.S. dollar billionaires worldwide, with a combined wealth of over US$ 9.1 trillion,[3] up from US$7.67 trillion in 2017.[4][5] According to a 2017 Oxfam report, the top eight richest billionaires own as much combined wealth as "half the human race".[6][7] As of June 2021, eight people have reached the status of USD centibillionaires, meaning that each has had a net worth of at least $100 billion. All but one (Bernard Arnault) are United States citizens.[8]

Current U.S. dollar billionaires

Global share of wealth by wealth group, Credit Suisse, 2021
Global share of wealth by wealth group, Credit Suisse, 2017

According to the UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2019 report released in November 2019, there are currently 2,101 U.S. dollar billionaires worldwide, from 66 countries, with a combined net worth of $8.5 trillion.[9][10] The majority of billionaires are male, as fewer than 11% (197 of 1,826) on the 2015 list were female billionaires.[11] The United States has the largest number of billionaires of any country, with 536 as of 2015,[11] while China, India and Russia are home to 213, 90 and 88 billionaires, respectively.[12][13] As of 2015, only 46 billionaires were under the age of 40,[11] while the list of American-only billionaires, as of 2010, had an average age of 66.[14]

In 2019 there were a record 607 billionaires in the U.S. This group includes 14 of the world's 20 richest people. Jeff Bezos was number 1 in the world, followed by Bernard Arnault and family, and Elon Musk at number 3.[15] In January 2021, Musk ascended to the top of the list but the first position returned to Bezos after a few months. In April 2021 Arnault overtook Musk to become the world's second richest person. As of 26 July 2021 he remains at third place.

Education and work experience

Billionaires come from a very wide number of backgrounds. A review of the education and work histories of the top 400 billionaires shows little correlation between education and success. Nearly 30% of billionaires do not have a college degree, greatly exceeding any other educational background. The most common field of university education was finance and economics, which only contributed to a combined 15.5% of billionaire educations.[16][17]

There is little correlation between any university and becoming a billionaire. The top 10 Universities produced just 99 of the top 400 billionaires combined, significantly less than the total number of billionaires who were not college educated. Military service produced 21 billionaires, more than any single University.[18]

Very few college educated billionaires pursued business interests in their field of study, with the exception of computer science majors. All twelve of the twelve computer science major billionaires worked in computer science, while only half of Engineers worked in Engineering, and less than a quarter of finance and economics majors ever worked in finance or economics. The most common field for billionaires to enter was sales and military service.[19]


The number of billionaires that, with assets combined, would own as much money as half the world population, and what transport they would fit on, between years 2010 to 2016[20]

According to a 2016 Oxfam report, the wealth of the poorest 95% dropped by 38% between 2010 and 2015, due to an increase in the global population of 400 million.[20] In the same period, the wealth of the richest 62 people between the World's Billionaires increased by $500bn (£350bn) to $1.76tn. More recently, in 2017 an Oxfam report noted that just eight billionaires have as much net worth as "half the human race".[6][7] However, the Oxfam report has been criticized for considering debt as negative wealth, which leads to wealthy people with large amounts of debt to be considered poor or not wealthy.[21]

Rise of new members

In 2019, 19 people became billionaires. Four of the members joined as a result of death or divorce, including Julia Koch and Jeff Bezos's former wife Mackenzie Scott.[22]

New members now also include more and more women. In the last five years, the number of female billionaires has grown by 46 percent, that is more than the number of male billionaires in the same period (39 percent). There are now 233 female billionaires in the world, a steep growth from 160 in 2013.[9]


The table below lists numerous statistics relating to billionaires, including the total number of known billionaires and the net worth of the world's wealthiest individual for each year since 2008. Data for each year is from the annual Forbes list of billionaires, with currency figures given in U.S. dollars. Data since 2018 also includes the Wealth-X billionaire census which typically finds higher numbers than Forbes.

YearTotal number of
Combined wealth of
known billionaires
Number of billionairesWorld's wealthiest
net worth
2020[23][24] 2,095 $10.2 trillion 614 389 99 102 Jeff Bezos $188 billion
2019[25][26]2,153-2,604$8.6-$8.7 trillion609-705285-32498-10282-106Jeff Bezos $131 billion
2018[4][3]2,208-2,754$9.1-$9.2 trillion585-680338-37296-111117-119Jeff Bezos$133 billion
2017[5]2,043$7.71 trillion565319106101Jeff Bezos $99.6 billion
20161,810$6.48 trillion5402517590 Bill Gates $75 billion
2015[12]1,826$7.05 trillion5362138888Bill Gates$79.2 billion
2014[27]1,645$6.4 trillion49215211156[28]Bill Gates$78 billion
2013[29]1,426$5.4 trillion442122110Carlos Slim$73 billion
2012[30]1,226$4.6 trillion4259596Carlos Slim$73 billion
2011[31]1,210$4.5 trillion413115101Carlos Slim$74 billion
2010[32]1,011$3.6 trillion4048962Carlos Slim$53.5 billion
2009[33]793$2.4 trillion3592832Bill Gates$40 billion
2008[34]1,125$4.4 trillion47087Warren Buffett$62 billion

See also

  • Foundation
  • The World's Billionaires
  • Forbes 400 (US citizens only)
  • Bloomberg Billionaires Index (global)
  • List of cities by number of billionaires
  • List of countries by the number of billionaires
  • List of universities by number of billionaire alumni
  • List of wealthiest families
  • Black billionaires
  • List of wealthiest historical figures
  • Millionaire


  1. Miller, Matthew; Kroll, Luisa (10 March 2010). "Bill Gates No Longer World's Richest Man". Forbes. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  2. O'Donnell, Carl (11 July 2014). "The Rockefellers: The Legacy Of History's Richest Man". Forbes. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  3. "Number of billionaires worldwide surged to 2,754 in 2017". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  4. Kroll, Luisa (6 March 2018). "Forbes Billionaires 2018: Meet The Richest People On The Planet". Forbes. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  5. Kroll, Luisa; Dolan, Kerry A. "Forbes 2017 billionaires list: Meet the richest people on the planet". Forbes. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  6. Ratcliff, Anna (16 January 2017). "Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world". Oxfam. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  7. Mullany, Gerry (16 January 2017). "World's 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half of Global Population". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  9. "UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2019". Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  10. "Billionaires insights 2018". Billionaires insights. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  11. "Behind the Numbers in Forbes' Billionaires List". U.S. News & World Report. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  12. "Inside The 2015 Forbes Billionaires List: Facts And Figures". Forbes. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  13. "A Record 90 Indians On Forbes Billionaires List 2015". Forbes. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  14. Rappeport, Alan (9 March 2011). "Brics becoming billionaire factory". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  15. "Real Time Billionaires". Forbes. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  16. "You'd be Surprised How Many Billionaires Don't Have a College Degree".
  17. "These 10 college majors have created more billionaires than any other fields of study".
  18. "These 10 college majors have created more billionaires than any other fields of study".
  19. "These 10 college majors have created more billionaires than any other fields of study".
  20. "62 people own same as half world – Oxfam". Oxfam. Archived from the original on 29 October 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  21. "Are 26 billionaires worth more than half the planet? The debate, explained". 22 January 2019.
  22. "Newcomers: These 19 Billionaires Join the Forbes 400 List in 2019". Forbes. 3 October 2019. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  23. Moskowitz, Dan (13 July 2021). "A Look at the 10 Richest People in the World". Investopedia. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  24. "The Countries with the Most Billionaires 2020". Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  25. "Billionaires 2019". Forbes. 5 March 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  26. Dhiraj, Amarendra (16 May 2019). "Top 15 countries with the most billionaires, ranked". Business Insider. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  27. "Billionaires". Forbes. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  28. "Indian Billionaires 2014: Big Winners, Big Losers". Forbes. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  29. "Inside The 2013 Billionaires List". Forbes. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  30. "Forbes World's Billionaires 2012". Forbes. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  31. "World's Billionaires 2011: A Record Year In Numbers, Money And Impact". Forbes. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  32. "Bill Gates No Longer World's Richest Man". Forbes. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  33. "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  34. "World's Billionaires". Forbes. 5 March 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2012.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.