Infographic: The Richest People in Human History
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The Richest People in Human History (Part 1)

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The Richest People in Human History - Part 1

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The Richest People in History

(Up until the Industrial Revolution)

Click here for a larger, more legible version of the infographic that you can explore in-depth.

When we think of wealth today, we often think of the massive personal fortunes of business magnates like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Warren Buffett. However, it is only since the Industrial Revolution that measuring wealth by one’s bank account has been a norm for the world’s richest.

For most of recorded human history, in fact, the lines around wealth were quite blurred. Leaders like Augustus Caesar or Emperor Shenzong had absolute control of their empires – while bankers like Jakob Fogger and Cosimo de Medici were often found pulling the strings from behind.

This infographic focuses on the richest people in history up until the Industrial Revolution – and in the coming weeks, we will release a second version that covers wealth from then onwards (including figures like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jeff Bezos, etc.).

Is This List of People Definitive?

While it is certainly fun to speculate on the wealth of people from centuries past, putting together this list is exceptionally difficult and certainly not definitive.

Here’s why:

Firstly, much wealth in early periods is tied to land (Genghis Khan) or entire empires (Augustus, Akbar), which makes calculations extremely subjective. What is most of Asia’s land worth in the year 1219? What separates personal fortune from the riches of an empire that one has full control of? There are a wide variety of answers to these questions, and they all influence the figures chosen to be represented.

Secondly, records kept from Ancient eras are scarce, exaggerated, or based on legends and oral histories. Think of King Solomon or Mansa Musa – these are characters described as immeasurably rich, so trying to put their wealth in modern context is fun, but certainly not guaranteed to be historically accurate.

Lastly, wealth and conversion rates can be approached in different ways as well. Take Crassus in the Roman Republic, who had a peak fortune of “200 million sesterces”. Well, that’s a problem for us in modernity, because that stash could be worth anywhere from $200 million to $169.8 billion, depending on how calculations are done.

So, enjoy this list of the wealthiest historical figures, but keep in mind that it is mostly for fun – and that the list of the wealthiest people in history changes depending on who you ask!

About the Money Project

The Money Project uses intuitive visualizations to explore ideas around the very concept of money itself. Founded in 2015 by Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals, the Money Project will look at the evolving nature of money, and will try to answer the difficult questions that prevent us from truly understanding the role that money plays in finance, investments, and accumulating wealth.

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Personal Finance

How Does Your Personality Type Affect Your Income?

Can your Myers–Briggs personality type impact how much you make? See for yourself with this breakdown of average income for all 16 personality types.

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How Does Your Personality Type Affect Your Income?

You’ve just finished giving a presentation at work, and an outspoken coworker challenges your ideas. Do you:

a) Engage in a friendly debate about the merits of each argument, or

b) Avoid a conflict by agreeing or changing the subject?

The way you approach this type of situation may influence how much money you earn.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Truity, and it outlines the potential relationship between personality type and income.

Through the Myers-Briggs Lens

The Myers-Briggs personality test serves as a robust framework for analyzing the connection between personality and income, in a way that is easily understood and familiar to many people.

The theory outlines four personality dimensions that are described using opposing traits.

  • Extraversion vs. Introversion: Extroverts gain energy by interacting with others, while introverts draw energy from spending time alone.
  • Sensing vs. Intuition: Sensors prefer concrete and factual information, while intuitive types use their imagination or wider patterns to interpret information.
  • Thinking vs. Feeling: Thinkers make rational decisions based on logic, while feelers make empathetic decisions considering the needs of others.
  • Judging vs. Perceiving: Judging types organize their life in a structured manner, while perceiving types are more flexible and spontaneous.

For example, someone who aligns with extraversion, sensing, thinking, and judging would be described as an ESTJ type.

The researchers surveyed over 72,000 people to measure these four personality preferences, as well as 23 unique facets of personality, income levels, and career-related data.

Traits With the Highest Earning Potential

Based on the above four dimensions, extroverts, sensors, thinkers, and judgers tend to be the most financially successful. Diving into specific personality characteristics, certain traits are more closely correlated with higher income.

Personality TypeAverage Income Advantage (Annual)Trait(s) Most Correlated With Income Advantage
Extroverts$9,347Expressive, Energetic, Prominent
Sensors$1,910Conceptual
Thinkers$8,411Challenging, Objective, Rational
Judgers$6,903Ambitious

For instance, extroverts are much more likely to have higher incomes if they are quick to share thoughts, have high energy, and like being in the public eye. Thinkers also score high on income potential, especially if they enjoy debates, make rational decisions, and moderate their emotions.

The Top Earners

Which personality types earn the highest incomes of all? Extroverted thinking types dominate the ranks again.

Myers-briggs personality highest earners

Source: Truity

The one exception is INTJs, with 10% earning an annual salary of $150K or more in their peak earning years.

Personality and the Gender Pay Gap

With all these factors in mind, the researchers analyzed whether personality differences would affect the gender pay gap.

When the average salaries were separated for men and women, the results were clear: men of almost all personality types earn more than the average income for the sample overall, while all but two personality types of women earned less than the average.

Myers briggs personality gender pay gap

Source: Truity

In fact, women with high-earning personality types still earn less than men who do not possess those traits. For example, extroverted women earn about $55,000 annually, while introverted men earn an average of over $64,000.

Maximizing Your Potential

Are the introverted personalities of the world doomed to lower salaries? Not necessarily—while personality does play a role, many other factors contribute to income levels:

  • Level of education
  • Years of experience
  • Local job market
  • Type of industry
  • The particular career

Not only that, anyone can work on the two specific personality traits most aligned with higher incomes: set ambitious goals, and face conflict head-on to ensure your voice is heard.

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Politics

Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity

Every day, hunger affects more than 700 million people. This live map from the UN highlights where hunger is hitting hardest around the world.

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The World Hunger Map

Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity

Hunger is still one the biggest—and most solvable—problems in the world.

Every day, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population) go to bed on an empty stomach, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The WFP’s HungerMap LIVE displayed here tracks core indicators of acute hunger like household food consumption, livelihoods, child nutritional status, mortality, and access to clean water in order to rank countries.

The World Hunger Map

After sitting closer to 600 million from 2014 to 2019, the number of people in the world affected by hunger increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, 155 million people (2% of the world’s population) experienced acute hunger, requiring urgent assistance.

The Fight to Feed the World

The problem of global hunger isn’t new, and attempts to solve it have making headlines for decades.

On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially opened Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans.

The event was followed by similar concerts at other arenas around the world, globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations, raising more than $125 million ($309 million in today’s dollars) in famine relief for Africa.

But 35+ years later, the continent still struggles. According to the UN, from 12 countries with the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the world, nine are in Africa.

Country % Population Affected by HungerPopulation (millions)Region
Afghanistan 🇦🇫93%40.4Asia
Somalia 🇸🇴68%12.3Africa
Burkina Faso 🇧🇫61%19.8Africa
South Sudan 🇸🇸60%11.0Africa
Mali 🇲🇱60%19.1Africa
Sierra Leone 🇸🇱55%8.2Africa
Syria 🇸🇾55%18.0Middle East
Niger 🇳🇪55%22.4Africa
Lesotho 🇱🇸50%2.1Africa
Guinea 🇬🇳48%12.2Africa
Benin 🇧🇯47%11.5Africa
Yemen 🇾🇪44%30.0Middle East

Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation, and poverty.

Wasted Leftovers

Although many of the reasons for the food crisis around the globe involve conflicts or environmental challenges, one of the big contributors is food waste.

According to the United Nations, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons of wasted food per year, worth approximately $1 trillion.

All the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people. That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe. Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Solving Global Hunger

While many people may not be “hungry” in the sense that they are suffering physical discomfort, they may still be food insecure, lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development.

Estimates of how much money it would take to end world hunger range from $7 billion to $265 billion per year.

But to tackle the problem, investments must be utilized in the right places. Specialists say that governments and organizations need to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions, increase agricultural productivity, and invest in more efficient supply chains.

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