Where the rich people are

This world has over 1,000 billionaires in it, actually 1,011 to be exact, according to Forbes. There are also plenty more millionaires found in most countries in the world. The vast majority of those billionaires are entrepreneurs, CEO’s, business owners and some politicians (which can also be described as business owners). The top 10 richest people on earth are all business owners, either self made entrepreneurs or had an inheritance (likely from an entrepreneur parent) and grew it substantially. 

The United States has just over 400 billionaires (40%), more than 4 times as much as any other country. It also has significantly more millionaires than any other country, about 4.7 million of them, according to The Boston Consulting Group’s Global Wealth 2010 Report. Although these figures are highly lopsided in favour of the U.S., the percentage is decreasing every year and Asia is slowly catching up. Eventually, these figures might put China on top due to the huge population, but as a percentage of population it is doubtful that they will be in the top 10.

If you were to go door-to-door across America looking for millionaires, then you would find them about 4% of the time. Not a bad rate relative to the world as a whole which is less than 1% but, not as good as Singapore which you find a millionaire about 11.4% of the time. This news might make you think about where to go knocking the next time you are raising money for a charity… (That’s actually not true; Americans give more money than just about anyone, even on a per capita basis).

For all of the hype surrounding China and Russia about holding a lot of rich people, those two countries combined only have 151 billionaires which is not even 40% of the U.S. total and that includes Hong Kong. However, China’s 89 billionaires are good for second place among nations which might make people in Germany and Japan a little nervous. Another interesting fact with these figures is that Russia lost almost a third of its billionaires two years ago due to the recession and got them back this past year when the economy improved. This shows that their economy is not as versatile, resilient and diversified as the U.S. economy, as well as, other countries and that is not good news for them.

Overall, the numbers show that rich people are relatively small in numbers compared to the global population but account for a substantial amount of the world’s wealth. In countries where the millionaire count is small, like in much of Africa for example, it gives that part of the world much less power and influence. This means that many big decisions will be made without looking out for their interests. Since these decisions involve private people and companies’ money, you can not blame them for not looking out for Africa but it makes the policies of those governments less likely to give their population opportunity because that requires influence from the rich.

As time goes on we are seeing and will likely continue to see a balancing out of the world’s wealth and eventually millionaires will be found everywhere in somewhat more relative equality. Until then, we should be happy that we live in North America and our chance to be one of those lucky few is greater than the global average.