The Richest People in the World in 2021, Visualized (Updated Sept 2021)
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The Richest People in the World in 2021

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Visualizing the Richest People in the World

Over $732 billion has been amassed by the 10 richest people in the world since March 2020.

To put that into perspective, that’s more than the entire economic output of Switzerland, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia. As just one example, Elon Musk witnessed his wealth increase at least 650% in the last year and a half. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has earned an additional $87 billion.

With data from the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List, we navigate how the wealth of various uber-affluent groups have changed since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 10 Richest People in the World

With a net worth of $200 billion, Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest in the world.

After 26 years, Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO to become executive chairman to focus on Blue Origin, among other endeavours. The private company states that it is “opening the promise of space to all” launching New Shepard, its first crewed rocket in July 2021.

Based on data as of September 13, 2021 here are the ten wealthiest individuals worldwide:

RankNameSourceNet Worth Sep 2021Net Worth Mar 2020Change 2020-2021
1Jeff BezosAmazon$200B$113B$87B
2Elon MuskTesla, SpaceX$192B$25B$167B
3Bernard Arnault & familyLVMH$187B$76B$111B
4Mark ZuckerbergFacebook$134B$55B$79B
5Bill GatesMicrosoft$131B$98B$33B
6Larry PageGoogle$122B$51B$71B
7Sergey BrinGoogle$117B$49B$68B
8Larry Ellisonsoftware$116B$59B$57B
9Warren BuffettBerkshire Hathaway$101B$68B$33B
10Steve BallmerMicrosoft$95B$69B$26B
Total Change$732

Top 10 Wealth Growth

Since the onset of the pandemic, Elon Musk has seen his wealth grow the fastest out of the top 10. Over the second quarter of 2021, Tesla net income topped $1.1 billion—a company record.

At one point, Musk even briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos as the richest person in the world. This is impressive, since Jeff Bezos’s wealth ballooned over 77% in the same time frame. Similarly, Zuckerberg, Gates, and Buffett have all seen double or triple-digit growth.

2021 Billionaires wealth growth 2021

Following Musk is Bernard Arnault, known as “The Wolf in Cashmere”. Despite 2020 profits falling 28%, the French magnate has made over $111 billion. In January, LVMH closed a $15.8 billion acquisition of jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co.

On average, the top 10 richest saw gains of 153% over the course of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the majority were in tech.

Who’s In and Who’s Out?

As of early August, Rihanna joins the billionaire’s club with an estimated $1.7 billion net worth.

Thanks to the rapid ascent of Fenty Beauty (of which she owns a 50% stake), Rihanna is the second-wealthiest female entertainer in the world, following Oprah at $2.7 billion. The company is focused on inclusivity, offering a broad set of products for every skin type. Launched in 2017 with LVMH (who owns the other 50% stake), Fenty Beauty currently sits at a $2.8 billion valuation.

By contrast, last year’s youngest billionaire, Kylie Jenner, fell off the list after allegedly inflating her net worth. Interestingly, the Kardashian’s took great lengths to show Forbes the extent of her wealth, including showing them their tax returns along with invitations to their mansions.

Still, Jenner’s net worth stands at roughly $700 million.

A New Gilded Age?

Given the staggering growth of the ultra-wealthy in recent years, today’s wealth concentration is now comparable to America’s Gilded Age.

At the time, John D. Rockefeller was the richest person in the world—worth roughly $285 billion in today’s terms. His businesses produced 1.6% of total U.S. economic output.

By comparison, Jeff Bezos, at nearly $200 billion, still has a little ways to go just yet.

The data and graphics were last updated on September 13th, 2021.

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The Richest People in Human History, to the Industrial Revolution

What do Augustus Caesar, Cosimo de Medici, Mansa Musa, and Genghis Khan have in common? They were some of the richest people in all of history.

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The Richest People in Human History, to 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, Elon Musk, 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 we created with Texas Precious Metals focuses on the richest people in history up until the Industrial Revolution, and it highlights key facts and anecdotes on how they created their wealth.

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 richest people in history may change depending on who you ask!

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Personal Finance

Is $1 Million Enough for Retirement in America?

The average American needs their retirement savings to last them over a decade. In which cities is $1 million enough to retire comfortably?

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Is $1 Million Enough for Retirement in America?

The average American needs their retirement savings to last them 14 to 17 years. With this in mind, is $1 million in savings enough for the average retiree?

Ultimately, it depends on where you live, since the average cost of living varies across the country. This graphic, using data compiled by GOBankingRates.com shows how many years $1 million in retirement savings lasts in the top 50 most populated U.S. cities.

Editor’s note: As one user rightly pointed out, this analysis doesn’t take into account interest earned on the $1 million. With that in consideration, the above calculations could be seen as very conservative figures.

How Long $1 Million Would Last in 50 Cities

To compile this data, GOBankingRates calculated the average expenditures of people aged 65 or older in each city, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and cost-of-living indices from Sperling’s Best Places.

That figure was then reduced to account for average Social Security income. Then, GOBankingRates divided the one million by each city’s final figure to calculate how many years $1 million would last in each place.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, San Francisco, California came in as the most expensive city on the list. $1 million in retirement savings lasts approximately eight years in San Francisco, which is about half the time that the typical American needs their retirement funds to last.

CityHow long $1 would last (years)Cost-of-living IndexAnnual expenditures
(after using annual Social Security)
Memphis, TN45.376$22,043
El Paso, TX40.381.4$24,789
Wichita, KS39.782.1$25,145
Tulsa, OK38.883.2$25,705
Indianapolis, IN38.683.5$25,857
Milwaukee, WI37.684.9$26,569
Oklahoma City, OK37.385.4$26,824
Columbus, OH37.285.5$26,875
Kansas City, MO36.786.2$27,231
Detroit, MI35.887.6$27,943
Baltimore, MD35.388.2$28,248
Louisville, KY35.388.4$28,349
San Antonio, TX34.489.7$29,011
Omaha, NE34.389.8$29,062
Albuquerque, NM33.691.1$29,723
Tucson, AZ33.391.6$29,977
Jacksonville, FL32.393.5$30,943
New Orleans, LA30.896.3$32,367
Houston, TX30.896.5$32,469
Charlotte, NC29.698.9$33,690
Forth Worth, TX29.399.8$34,148
Arlington, TX28.8100.6$34,554
Philadelphia, PA28.6101.2$34,860
Nashville, TN28.5101.4$34,961
Dallas, TX28.4101.6$35,063
Raleigh, NC28.2102.3$35,419
Fresno, CA28.1102.6$35,572
Phoenix, AZ27.6103.7$36,131
Mesa, AZ27.4104.2$36,385
Colorado Springs, CO27.3104.5$36,538
Virginia Beach, VA26.9105.6$37,097
Minneapolis, MN26.6106.5$37,555
Chicago, IL26.4106.9$37,759
Atlanta, GA26.3107.5$38,064
Las Vegas, NV24.8111.6$40,149
Sacramento, CA22.9118.2$43,506
Austin, TX22.7119.3$44,065
Miami, FL21.7123.1$45,998
Denver, CO20.4128.7$48,846
Portland, OR20.0130.8$49,914
Washington, D.C.16.4152.1$60,747
San Diego, CA15.4160.1$64,816
Long Beach, CA15.3160.4$64,969
Boston, MA15.1162.4$65,986
Seattle. WA14.0172.3$71,021
Los Angeles, CA13.9173.3$71,530
Oakland, CA13.8174.4$72,089
New York, NY12.7187.2$78,599
San Jose, CA10.8214.5$92,484
San Francisco, CA8.3269.3$120,355

A big factor in San Francisco’s high cost of living is its housing costs. According to Sperlings Best Places, housing in San Francisco is almost 6x more expensive than the national average and 3.6x more expensive than in the overall state of California.

Four of the top five most expensive cities on the list are in California, with New York City being the only outlier. NYC is the third most expensive city on the ranking, with $1 million expected to last a retiree about 12.7 years.

On the other end of the spectrum, $1 million in retirement would last 45.3 years in Memphis, Tennessee. That’s about 37 years longer than it would last in San Francisco. In Memphis, housing costs are about 2.7x lower than the national average, with other expenses like groceries, health, and utilities well below the national average as well.

Retirement, Who?

Regardless of where you live, it’s helpful to start planning for retirement sooner rather than later. But according to a recent survey, only 41% of women and 58% of men are actively saving for retirement.

However, for some, COVID-19 has been the financial wake-up call they needed to start planning for the future. In fact, in the same survey, 70% of respondents claimed the pandemic has “caused them to pay more attention to their long-term finances.”

This is good news, considering that people are living longer than they used to, meaning their funds need to last longer in general (or people need to retire later in life). Although, as the data in this graphic suggests, where you live will greatly influence how much you actually need.

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