Top facts and stats about billionaires

Billionaires. 

Somehow they seem present in our everyday lives (the endless Elon Musk news stories probably don’t help) yet it’s incredibly unlikely you’ll ever meet one. A millionaire, sure. There are literally millions of those. 

But billionaires are a far rarer subset of society than most people realise. If you took home the average UK salary of £38,600 (and we ignore pesky things like taxes and loan repayments) it would take you around 26 years to earn £1 million… versus 25,906 years to earn £1 billion. 

So: just how many billionaires are there in the world? Where do most of them come from and how did they make their money? What is their average age? And in which city do most of them live? 

Here’s your introductory class in Billionaires 101… or scroll down for answers to some of the web’s most-searched questions.

How many billionaires are there in the world?

According to the Forbes rich list, there are 2,668 billionaires in the world as of 2022. Other surveys put the number within the 3,000s. 

What country has the most billionaires?

Overall, per the 2022 Hurun Research Institute survey, China has by far the most billionaires in the world at 1,133. The US has the second most billionaires at 716, followed by India (215), UK (150) and Germany (145).

Who is the richest person in the world 2022?

As of April 2022, Elon Musk. However, the top spot changes hands pretty often because it is tied to companies’ market capitalization, and subject to the volatility of the stock market. Musk has benefitted as stock in Tesla has soared. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has dropped out of the top 5 richest people – and even the top 10 – as his company’s value has fallen.

What is the richest person in the world’s net worth? 

Again, this can swing wildly, but Musk’s net worth is presently around $219 billion. The world’s top 20 richest people have net worths in excess of $60 billion; the top 40 above $30 billion; and the top 60 more than $24 billion. 

Who is the richest woman in the world? 

That would be Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart fortune and the 18th richest person in the world. The US retail chain was founded by her father, Sam Walton. 

Many, if not most, of the men and women on the list have been given legs up in life by family wealth. But if you want to highlight the richest ‘self-made’ woman on the list (AKA not a billionaire due to inheritance or marriage) that distinction goes to Diane Hendricks, who along with husband Ken founded Wisconsin-based roofing company ABC Supply. She has an estimated net worth of around $11.3 billion, making her only the 183rd richest person. 

Who gives the most to charity in the world?

Much attention has been given over the past year to the massive donations being made by MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife and the world’s 30th richest person. She has signed a pledge to donate a significant chunk of her wealth and launched various initiatives to find potential recipients of donations. 

Most people will also have heard of the philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates, whose eponymous foundation has been working since 2000 on projects related to poverty, public health and inequality. 

However, again per Forbes, the world’s most charitable person is in fact legendary investor Warren Buffett, who has pledged to give away 99% of his vast fortune. So far he has given an estimated $46 billion, much of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.