The Geography of the World’s 50 Top Billionaires
The business world has undergone considerable change in the last two decades.
While some fortunes are always reliably passed on to their respective heirs and heiresses, there are also entirely new industries that rise out of nowhere to shape the landscape of global wealth.
As the wealth landscape shifts, so does its geographical distribution.
The 2019 List of Billionaires
Today’s chart uses data from the most recent edition of the Forbes Billionaires List to map the distribution of the world’s richest people, and then compare that to data from 20 years prior.
We’ll start here by looking at the most recent data from 2019:
|Rank||Name||Net Worth ($B)||Citizenship||Industry|
|#1||Jeff Bezos||131||🇺🇸 USA||Tech, eCommerce|
|#2||Bill Gates||96.5||🇺🇸 USA||Tech|
|#3||Warren Buffett||82.5||🇺🇸 USA||Investments|
|#4||Bernard Arnault||76||🇫🇷 France||Luxury Goods, Cosmetics|
|#5||Carlos Slim Helu||64||🇲🇽 Mexico||Telecommunications|
|#6||Amancio Ortega||62.7||🇪🇸 Spain||Apparel|
|#7||Larry Ellison||62.5||🇺🇸 USA||Tech|
|#8||Mark Zuckerberg||62.3||🇺🇸 USA||Tech|
|#9||Michael Bloomberg||55.5||🇺🇸 USA||Media|
|#10||Larry Page||50.8||🇺🇸 USA||Tech|
|#11||Charles Koch||50.5||🇺🇸 USA||Diversified|
|#12||David Koch||50.5||🇺🇸 USA||Diversified|
|#13||Mukesh Ambani||50||🇮🇳 India||Oil & Gas, Telecoms|
|#14||Sergey Brin||49.8||🇺🇸 USA||Tech|
|#15||Francoise Bettencourt||49.3||🇫🇷 France||Cosmetics|
|#16||Jim Walton||44.6||🇺🇸 USA||Retail|
|#17||Alice Walton||44.4||🇺🇸 USA||Retail, Art|
|#18||Rob Walton||44.3||🇺🇸 USA||Retail|
|#19||Steve Ballmer||41.2||🇺🇸 USA||Tech|
|#20||Ma Huateng (Pony)||38.8||🇨🇳 China||Tech|
|#21||Jack Ma||37.3||🇨🇳 China||Tech, eCommerce|
|#22||Hui Ka Yan||36.2||🇨🇳 China||Real Estate|
|#23||Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr.||36.1||🇩🇪 Germany||Retail|
|#24||Sheldon Adelson||35.1||🇺🇸 USA||Casinos|
|#25||Michael Dell||34.3||🇺🇸 USA||Tech|
|#26||Phil Knight||33.4||🇺🇸 USA||Apparel|
|#27||David Thomson||32.5||🇨🇦 Canada||Media|
|#28||Li Ka-shing||31.7||🇨🇳 China||Developer|
|#29||Lee Shau Kee||30.1||🇨🇳 China||Developer|
|#30||François Pinault||29.7||🇫🇷 France||Luxury Goods|
|#31||Joseph Safra||25.2||🇧🇷 Brazil||Diversified|
|#32||Leonid Mikhelson||24||🇷🇺 Russia||Oil & Gas|
|#33||Jacqueline Mars||23.4||🇺🇸 USA||Food|
|#34||John Mars||23.9||🇺🇸 USA||Food|
|#35||Jorge Paulo Lemann||22.8||🇧🇷 Brazil||Diversified|
|#36||Azim Premji||22.6||🇮🇳 India||Tech|
|#37||Dieter Schwarz||22.6||🇩🇪 Germany||Retail|
|#38||Wang Jianlin||22.6||🇨🇳 China||Real Estate|
|#39||Giovanni Ferrero||22.4||🇮🇹 Italy||Food|
|#40||Elon Musk||22.4||🇺🇸 USA||Automotive, Tech|
|#41||Tadashi Yanai||22.2||🇯🇵 Japan||Apparel|
|#42||Yang Huiyan||22.1||🇨🇳 China||Real Estate|
|#43||Masayoshi Son||21.6||🇯🇵 Japan||Banking, Investments|
|#44||Jim Simons||21.5||🇺🇸 USA||Investments|
|#45||Vladimir Lisin||21.3||🇷🇺 Russia||Steel, Transportation|
|#46||Susanne Klatten||21||🇩🇪 Germany||Automotive, Pharma|
|#47||Vagit Alekperov||20.7||🇷🇺 Russia||Oil & Gas|
|#48||Alexey Mordashov||20.5||🇷🇺 Russia||Steel, Investments|
|#49||Gennady Timchenko||20.1||🇷🇺 Russia||Oil & Gas|
|#50||Leonardo Del Vecchio||19.8||🇮🇹 Italy||Eyewear|
The most recent billionaires list features Jeff Bezos at the top with $131 billion, although it’s likely his recent divorce announcement will provide an upcoming shakeup to the Bezos Empire.
Bezos is just one of 21 Americans that find themselves in the top 50 list, which means that 42% of the world’s top billionaires hail from the United States.
Billionaire Geography Over Time
If we compare the top 50 list to that from 1999, it’s interesting to see what has changed over time in terms of geographical distribution.
Here’s the distribution of top countries on both lists, compared:
|Citizenship||Top Billionaires (1999)||Top Billionaires (2019)||Change|
|🇺🇸 United States||18||21||+3|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||2||0||-2|
In the last 20 years, Russia and China have stockpiled the most top billionaires, adding five and four to the top 50 list respectively. The United States added three, going from 18 to 21 billionaires over the timeframe.
On the other end of the spectrum, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland have lost the most billionaires from the top 50 ranking.
Visualizing the Snowball of Government Debt
After an unprecedented borrowing spree in response to COVID-19, what does government debt look like around the world?
Visualizing the Snowball of Government Debt in 2021
As we approach the second half of 2021, many countries around the world are beginning to relax their COVID-19 restrictions.
And while this signals a return to normalcy for much of the global economy, there’s one subject that’s likely to remain controversial: government debt.
To see how each country is faring in the aftermath of an unprecedented global borrowing spree, this graphic from HowMuch.net visualizes debt-to-GDP ratios using April 2021 data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Ranking the Top 10 in Government Debt
Government debt is often analyzed through the debt-to-GDP metric because it contextualizes an otherwise massive number.
Take for example the U.S. national debt, which currently sits at over $27 trillion. In isolation this figure sounds daunting, but when expressed as a % of U.S. GDP, it works out to a more relatable 133%. This format also allows us to make a better comparison between countries, especially when their economies differ in size.
With that being said, here are the top 10 countries in terms of debt-to-GDP. For further context, we’ve included their 2019 and 2020 values as well.
|Rank (2021)||Country||Debt-to-GDP (2019)||Debt-to-GDP (2020)||Debt-to-GDP (April 2021)|
|#9||🇨🇻 Cape Verde||125%||139%||138%|
Japan tops the list with a ratio of 257%, though this isn’t really a surprise—the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio first surpassed 100% in the 1990s, and in 2010, it became the first advanced economy to reach 200%.
Such significant debt burdens are the result of non-traditional monetary policies, many of which were first implemented by Japan, then adopted by others. In the late 1990s, for instance, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) set interest rates at 0% to counter deflation and promote economic growth.
This low cost of borrowing enables businesses and governments to accumulate debt much more freely, and has seen widespread use among other developed nations post-2008.
What are the Risks?
Given that a majority of countries in this visual are red (meaning their debt-to-GDP ratios are over 50%), it’s safe to say that government borrowing is common practice.
But are large government debts a cause for concern?
Some believe that excessive borrowing will lead to higher interest costs in the long run, which could detract from economic growth and public sector investment. This theory is unlikely to become a reality anytime soon, however.
A recent report by RBC Wealth Management reported that the cost of servicing U.S. federal debt actually decreased in 2020, thanks to the low borrowing costs mentioned previously.
Perhaps a more prescient question would be: how long can the world’s central banks keep interest rates at near-zero levels?
Ranked: The World’s 25 Richest Millennial Billionaires
There are over 2,700 billionaires in the world, but how many are millennials? This visual breaks down the richest millennial billionaires.
Ranked: The World’s 25 Richest Millennial Billionaires
There are 2,755 billionaires globally—and combined, they are worth over $13 trillion.
Of these ultra wealthy individuals, just over 100 are millennials, born between the years 1981 and 1996. This young generation represents around 3.8% of all billionaires on a global basis with a combined net worth of $573.1 billion.
This visualization, using data from Forbes, ranks the richest 25 millennial billionaires and details their source of wealth, total net worth, nationality, and age.
Note: Forbes categorized billionaires by current age (2021). For those slightly over or under the age range of Millennials, meaning those who are currently 24 or 40 years old (i.e. they could have been born in either 1996/1997 or 1980/1981), if their birth year could not be accurately determined, they were left out of this ranking.
Who are the Millennial Billionaires?
The oldest millennials will be turning 40 in 2021, while the youngest are just turning 25. This means that millennial billionaires are generally the youngest billionaires in the world, save two Gen Zers: Wang Zelong of China, 24, and Kevin David Lehmann of Germany, 18.
|Mark Zuckerberg||36||$97.0 B||U.S.||Tech|
|Zhang Yiming||37||$35.6 B||China||Tech|
|Yang Huiyan & family||39||$29.6 B||China||Real Estate|
|Dustin Moskovitz||36||$17.8 B||U.S.||Tech|
|Su Hua||39||$17.8 B||China||Media & Entertainment|
|Pavel Durov||36||$17.2 B||Russia||Tech|
|Lukas Walton||34||$15.6 B||U.S.||Fashion & Retail|
|Eduardo Saverin||39||$14.6 B||Brazil||Tech|
|Cheng Yixiao||37||$14.1 B||China||Media & Entertainment|
|Brian Chesky||39||$13.7 B||U.S.||Tech|
|Nathan Blecharczyk||37||$12.4 B||U.S.||Tech|
|Joe Gebbia||39||$12.4 B||U.S.||Tech|
|Bobby Murphy||32||$11.9 B||U.S.||Tech|
|Evan Spiegel||30||$11.1 B||U.S.||Tech|
|Guillaume Pousaz||39||$9.0 B||Switzerland||Finance & Investments|
|Sam Bankman-Fried||29||$8.7 B||U.S.||Finance & Investments|
|Agnete Kirk Thinggaard||37||$8.7 B||Denmark||Manufacturing|
|Dmitry Bukhman||35||$7.9 B||Russia||Media & Entertainment|
|Igor Bukhman||39||$7.9 B||Russia||Media & Entertainment|
|Ernest Garcia, III.||38||$7.4 B||U.S.||Automotive|
|Brian Armstrong||38||$6.5 B||U.S.||Finance & Investments|
|Wang Ning & family||34||$6.3 B||China||Media & Entertainment|
|Scott Duncan||38||$6.0 B||U.S.||Energy|
|David Velez||39||$5.2 B||Colombia||Finance & Investments|
|Kate Wang||39||$5.0 B||China||Manufacturing|
|Daniel Ek||38||$4.6 B||Sweden||Technology|
|Gustav Magnar Witzoe||27||$4.4 B||Norway||Food & Beverage|
|Steven Meng Yang & family||38||$4.2 B||China||Technology|
|Li Xiang||39||$4.0 B||China||Automotive|
|Ben Silbermann||38||$3.9 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Lynsi Snyder||38||$3.6 B||U.S.||Food & Beverage|
|Apoorva Mehta||34||$3.5 B||Canada||Technology|
|Franco Bittar Garcia||37||$3.5 B||Brazil||Fashion & Retail|
|Xu Yi||31||$3.4 B||China||Media & Entertainment|
|RJ Scaringe||38||$3.4 B||U.S.||Automotive|
|Patrick Collison||32||$3.2 B||Ireland||Technology|
|John Collison||30||$3.2 B||Ireland||Technology|
|Pedro de Godoy Bueno||30||$3.0 B||Brazil||Healthcare|
|Geoffrey Kwok||35||$3.0 B||Hong Kong||Real Estate|
|Yin Xin||36||$3.0 B||China||Media & Entertainment|
|Huang Jinfeng||38||$3.0 B||China||Fashion & Retail|
|Cameron Winklevoss||39||$3.0 B||U.S.||Finance & Investments|
|Tyler Winklevoss||39||$3.0 B||U.S.||Finance & Investments|
|Paul Sciarra||40||$2.9 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Chen Tianshi||36||$2.8 B||China||Technology|
|Tony Xu||36||$2.8 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Victor Jacobsson||39||$2.7 B||Sweden||Fiannce & Investments|
|Caroline Hagen Kjos||37||$2.6 B||Norway||Diversified|
|Adam Kwok||38||$2.6 B||Hong Kong||Real Estate|
|André Street||36||$2.5 B||Brazil||Finance & Investments|
|Chang Jing||38||$2.5 B||China||Technology|
|Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath||39||$2.5 B||India||Technology|
|Austin Russell||26||$2.4 B||U.S.||Automotive|
|Jonathan Kwok||29||$2.4 B||Hong Kong||Real Estate|
|David Chen||40||$2.4 B||Singapore||Media & Entertainment|
|Tom Persson||36||$2.3 B||Sweden||Fashion & Retail|
|Jared Isaacman||38||$2.3 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Andrew Paradise||38||$2.3 B||U.S.||Media & Entertainment|
|Sebastian Siemiatkowski||39||$2.2 B||Sweden||Finance & Investments|
|Timur Turlov||33||$2.1 B||Russia||Finance & Investments|
|Gong Yingying||36||$2.1 B||China||Healthcare|
|Katarina Martinson||39||$2.1 B||Sweden||Diversified|
|Andy Fang||28||$2.0 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Stanley Tang||28||$2.0 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Christopher Kwok||35||$1.9 B||Hong Kong||Real Estate|
|Ipek Kirac||36||$1.9 B||Turkey||Diversified|
|Kevin Systrom||37||$1.9 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Fred Ehrsam||32||$1.9 B||U.S.||Finance & Investments|
|Nick Molnar||30||$1.8 B||Australia||Finance & Investments|
|Joachim Ante||38||$1.8 B||Germany||Technology|
|Drew Houston||38||$1.8 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Said Gutseriev||32||$1.7 B||Russia||Energy|
|Ginia Rinehart||34||$1.7 B||Australia||Metals & Mining|
|Hope Welker||35||$1.7 B||Australia||Metals & Mining|
|Bill Liu||38||$1.7 B||China||Technology|
|Peter Szulczewski||39||$1.7 B||Canada||Technology|
|Lisa Draexlmaier||30||$1.6 B||Germany||Automotive|
|Eva Maria Braun-Luedicke||34||$1.6 B||Germany||Healthcare|
|Heikki Herlin||34||$1.6 B||Finland||Manufacturing|
|Ryan Cohen||35||$1.6 B||Canada||Fiannce & Investments|
|Friederike Braun-Luedicke||37||$1.6 B||Germany||Healthcare|
|Wen Yilong||32||$1.5 B||China||Manufacturing|
|Zeng Chaolin||38||$1.5 B||China||Metals & Mining|
|Alexandra Andresen||24||$1.4 B||Norway||Diversified|
|Katharina Andresen||25||$1.4 B||Norway||Diversified|
|Karl Friedrich Braun||38||$1.4 B||Germany||Healthcare|
|Trevor Milton||39||$1.4 B||U.S.||Automotive|
|Ludwig Theodor Braun||31||$1.3 B||Germany||Healthcare|
|Anna Kasprzak||31||$1.3 B||Denmark||Fashion & Retail|
|Whitney Wolfe Herd||31||$1.3 B||U.S.||Technology|
|André Kasprzak||34||$1.3 B||Denmark||Fashion & Retail|
|Hakan Koc||36||$1.2 B||Germany||Automotive|
|Nik Storonsky||36||$1.2 B||UK||Technology|
|Christian Bertermann||37||$1.2 B||Germany||Automotive|
|Ryan Graves||37||$1.2 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Cheng Wei||38||$1.2 B||China||Service|
|Lu Zhilin||38||$1.2 B||China||Manufacturing|
|Sachin Bansal||39||$1.2 B||India||Fashion & Retail|
|Huang Yimeng||39||$1.2 B||China||Media & Entertainment|
|Wang Han||33||$1.1 B||China||Diversified|
|Anne Werninghaus||35||$1.1 B||Brazil||Manufacturing|
|Binny Bansal||38||$1.1 B||India||Technology|
|Sanjit Biswas||39||$1.1 B||U.S.||Technology|
|Vlad Tenev||34||$1.0 B||U.S.||Fiannce & Investments|
|Baiju Bhatt||36||$1.0 B||U.S.||Finance & Investments|
|Hou Jianbin||39||$1.0 B||China||Service|
The U.S. is home to the most millennial billionaires at 33 total, with China coming in second at 23—most other countries fall far behind.
In the U.S., millennial billionaires are often associated with notable tech companies like Snapchat, Airbnb, and Facebook. Others are heirs of massive family fortunes like Lukas Walton—grandson of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and the original head of America’s richest family.
In China, some millennial billionaires really stand out, like Relx founder, Kate Wang. The 39-year-old started her e-cigarette and vape company only three years ago, at age 36, and is expected to soon be vying for the title of richest woman in China.
Overall, billionaires were up $8 trillion in combined net worth compared to 2020 with around 493 new people added to the list in 2021.
In fact, 86% of all billionaires are richer than a year ago. But let’s look at how wealth changed for the millennials in the billionaires club. Here’s a look at the difference in net worth from 2020 to 2021 for the top five richest millennials:
- Mark Zuckerberg: +$35 Billion
- Zhang Yiming: +$19.4 Billion
- Yang Huiyan: +$9.3 Billion
- Dustin Moskovitz: +$8.5 Billion
- Su Hua: +$14.9 Billion
For each of the top 25 millennial billionaires, net worth either increased or was unchanged (or they were new to the title of billionaire). This is true for all except one person—Lukas Walton, whose net worth decreased by almost $3 billion from 2020 to 2021.
The Average Millennial
While there are around 106 millennial billionaires worldwide, their combined net worth is only a fraction of total billionaire wealth. So how much economic power and influence does this generation really hold?
When looking at the average American millennial’s wealth, the Generational Power Index has determined that this young generation only holds 9.6% of economic power in the U.S. Here’s a quick look at millennial wealth metrics in the U.S.:
- Millennials only make up 7% of American business leaders
- They own $73 billion in equities and mutual fund shares
- They represent 13% of small business leaders
- They make up 7% of American billionaire wealth
Globally, there are an estimated 1.8 billion millennials. Among that cohort, there are just over 100 people worth billions—and given that many are still in the early part of their careers, there is likely to be many millennial billionaires yet to come.
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