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Visualizing The World’s Top 50 Wealthiest Billionaires



The World's Top 50 Wealthiest Billionaires

The World’s Top 50 Wealthiest Billionaires

The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

Bill Gates. Warren Buffett. Mark Zuckerberg. George Soros. Charles and David Koch.

On an individual level, the people that make the definitive list of the Top 50 Wealthiest Billionaires are interesting, divisive, and envied around the globe. Together, they are a real force to be reckoned with: their combined fortunes tally to $1.46 trillion, which is more money than the GDP of entire countries such as Australia or Spain.

Today’s data visualization, using the latest information from Wealth-X, takes an in-depth look at the world’s wealthiest billionaires by breaking down important data on age, location, and the source of their fortunes.

Billionaires by Geography

The lion’s share of the wealthiest billionaires still come from the United States, where 58% of the list is located. The rest are mostly in Europe (16%) and China (12%), which includes those from Hong Kong.

The Southern Hemisphere only has one billionaire – Jorge Lemann from Brazil. However, even he now lives in Switzerland.

Surprisingly, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Russia combine to have a grand total of zero representation on the Top 50 Billionaires list.

Billionaires by Age

The youngest billionaire on the list is Mark Zuckerberg, at just 31 years of age. The oldest is Liliane Bettencourt, the principal shareholder of cosmetic giant L’Oréal. She is 93 years old.

The age of tech billionaires skewed the lowest, with an average age of 51. The age of all non-tech billionaires was far higher at 72.

Family Ties

The Walton siblings, which include Rob, Alice, and Jim Walton, are all descendants of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, and each have healthy fortunes of over $33 billion.

Meanwhile, the sons and daughters of Forrest Mars Sr., the creator of a candy empire, are not doing too bad for themselves, either. Forrest Jr., Jacqueline, and John Mars each have respective fortunes of $28.6 billion.

The divisive Koch Brothers also are high on the list, inheriting their initial wealth from father Fred C. Koch, the founder of Koch Industries. They succeeded in buying out their two other brothers, Frederick and William, after highly-publicized court battles in the 1980s and 1990s. Today the Koch Brothers have a combined fortune of $94.2 billion.

Other billionaires are connected by being from the same corporate family, sharing in the success of creating empires from the ground up. Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Paul Allen all worked to create Microsoft, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin built Google (now Alphabet) into one of the biggest companies in the world.

Billionaires by Industry

Technology, which brings us names such as Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison, has more billionaires than any other industry with 12.

The world’s largest fashion and retail brands, such as Wal-Mart, Zara, Nike, and H&M, also have helped to get many people on this list.

At the same time, other industries such as media are under-represented, with only two names with empires built in the sector making the top 50.

About the Money Project

The Money Project aims to use 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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Chart of the Week

Which Countries Have the Most Wealth Per Capita?

How do the rankings of the world’s most affluent countries change when using different metrics to measure wealth per capita?



Which Countries Have the Most Wealth Per Capita?

Our animated chart this week uses data from the ninth Credit Suisse Global Wealth report, which ranks countries by average wealth, calculated as gross assets per adult citizen.

While using such a metric certainly gives a quick snapshot of wealth per capita, it doesn’t necessarily show the complete picture.

Some argue, for example, that calculating the mean doesn’t factor in the gap between the richest and poorest in a population—also known as wealth inequality. For this reason, we’ve compared this number to median wealth for each country, providing a separate angle on which countries really have the most wealth per capita.

Mean or Median: Which Makes More Sense?

Below, we’ve visualized a hypothetical example of two groups of people, each earning various sums of money, to show how average (mean) and median calculations make a difference.

Mean vs Median Comparison

What can we observe in both datasets?

  • Total wealth: $2,000
  • Total people: 15 people
  • Average wealth: $2,000 ÷ 15 = $133

However, that’s where the similarities end. In the first group, wealth is distributed more evenly, with the disparity between the lowest-paid and highest-paid being $300. The median wealth for this group reaches $100, which is close to the average value. In the second group, this gap climbs to $495, and the median wealth drops sharply to only $30.

Scaling up this example to the true wealth of nations, we can see how the median wealth provides a more accurate picture of the typical adult, especially in societies that are less equal.

Let’s see how this shakes out when ranking the world’s most affluent countries.

Ranking Top Contenders on Wealth per Capita

When it comes to wealth per capita, it’s clear that Australia and Switzerland lead the pack. In fact, the data shows that both nations top the lists for both mean and median wealth.

However, both nations also have the highest absolute household debt-to-GDP ratios in the world: in 2018, Switzerland’s levels reached nearly 129%, while Australia followed behind at 120%.

Here is a full ranking of the top 20 countries by mean and median wealth:

RankCountryMean wealth per adultCountryMedian wealth per adult
#1🇨🇭 Switzerland$530,244🇦🇺 Australia$191,453
#2🇦🇺 Australia$411,060🇨🇭 Switzerland$183,339
#3🇺🇸 United States$403,974🇧🇪 Belgium$163,429
#4🇧🇪 Belgium$313,045🇳🇱 Netherlands$114,935
#5🇳🇴 Norway$291,103🇫🇷 France$106,827
#6🇳🇿 New Zealand$289,798🇨🇦 Canada$106,342
#7🇨🇦 Canada$288,263🇯🇵 Japan$103,861
#8🇩🇰 Denmark$286,712🇳🇿 New Zealand$98,613
#9🇸🇬 Singapore$283,118🇬🇧 United Kingdom$97,169
#10🇫🇷 France$280,580🇸🇬 Singapore$91,656
#11🇬🇧 United Kingdom$279,048🇪🇸 Spain$87,188
#12🇳🇱 Netherlands$253,205🇳🇴 Norway$80,054
#13🇸🇪 Sweden$249,765🇮🇹 Italy$79,239
#14🇭🇰 Hong Kong$244,672🇹🇼 Taiwan$78,177
#15🇮🇪 Ireland$232,952🇮🇪 Ireland$72,473
#16🇦🇹 Austria$231,368🇦🇹 Austria$70,074
#17🇯🇵 Japan$227,235🇰🇷 South Korea$65,463
#18🇮🇹 Italy$217,727🇺🇸 United States$61,667
#19🇩🇪 Germany$214,893🇩🇰 Denmark$60,999
#20🇹🇼 Taiwan$212,375🇭🇰 Hong Kong$58,905

The United States boasts 41% of the world’s millionaires, but it’s clear that the fruits of labor are enjoyed by only a select group—average wealth ($403,974) is almost seven times higher than median wealth ($61,667). This growing inequality gap knocks the country down to 18th place for median wealth.

The Nordic countries of Norway and Denmark can be found in the top ten for average wealth, but they drop to 12th place ($80,054) and 19th place ($60,999) respectively for median wealth. Despite this difference, these countries also provide a strong safety net—including access to healthcare and education—to more vulnerable citizens.

Finally, wealth in Japan is fairly evenly distributed among its large middle class, which lands it in seventh place on the median wealth list at $103,861. One possible reason is that the pay gap ratio between Japanese CEOs and the average worker is much lower than other developed nations.

With reducing income inequality as a priority for many countries around the world, how might this list change in coming years?

Footnote: All data estimates are using mid-2018 values, and reflected in US$.

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How Much Student Debt Does Each State Hold?

Crippling student debt in the U.S. has reached a record high of $1.5 trillion nationwide. Today’s map breaks down which states bear the highest burden.



How Much Student Debt Does Each State Hold?

Education may be priceless, but the costs of obtaining it are becoming steeper by the day.

Almost half of all university-educated Americans rely on loans to pay for their higher education, with very few graduating debt-free. Total U.S. student debt has more than doubled in the last decade—reaching a record high of $1.5 trillion today.

Today’s data visualization from breaks down the average student debt per capita, to uncover which states shoulder the highest burden in this growing crisis.

Students are Paying Through the Nose

Before diving into the graphic, let’s take a quick look at why student debt is racking up. The ballooning costs to attend college today compared to thirty years ago is one driving factor.

College Tuition
Source: The College Board 2018 report.

What’s more, these figures don’t include the expenses for accommodation and other supplies, which can add another $15,000-$17,000 per year.

The United States of Student Debt

In the state map above, it’s immediately obvious that Washington D.C. tops the list. While the nation’s capital is the most educated metropolitan area in the country, it also suffers from $13,320 in student debt per capita.

At approximately 147% above than the national average of $5,390, Washington D.C.’s debt burden per capita is almost double that of the state in second place. Georgia comes in with $7,250 debt per capita, 34.5% above the national average.

StateStudent Debt per CapitaDifference from Average
U.S. Average$5,390
District Of Columbia$13,320147.1%
New Hampshire$5,8608.7%
New Jersey$6,09013.0%
New Mexico$4,070-24.5%
New York$6,09013.0%
North Carolina$5,240-2.8%
North Dakota$5,5102.2%
Rhode Island$5,3900.0%
South Carolina$5,8708.9%
South Dakota$5,170-4.1%
West Virginia$4,020-25.4%

Rounding out the five states with the most student debt per capita are Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio, in that order. On the flip side, Wyoming has the least debt per capita ($3,610), which is 33.0% lower than the national average. Hawaii follows right behind at $3,780, and 29.9% below the national average.

Interestingly, a growing population on the West Coast helps to lower the debt burden for states like California, even despite the strong presence of prestigious schools. Home to Stanford, USC, UCLA, CalTech, and more, the Golden State surprisingly only has $4,530 in debt per capita.

The Last Straw?

Today’s Americans are more educated than ever before, but the sticker shock is causing some whiplash. This overall trend of spiraling student debt has significant implications on a person’s life trajectory. With many graduates unable to repay their loans on time, more of them are delaying major life milestones, such as starting a family or becoming a homeowner.

In efforts to curb this crisis, many 2020 presidential hopefuls have already started proposing plans to cancel or forgive student debt—with close attention on mid- to low-income households that would benefit the most from reduced loans.

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