A billionaire, in countries that use the short scale number naming system, is a person with a net worth of at least one billion (1,000,000,000, i.e. a thousand million) units of a given currency, usually major currencies such as the United States dollar, the euro or the pound sterling. Additionally, a centibillionaire (or centi-billionaire) has been deemed applicable to a billionaire worth one hundred billion dollars (100,000,000,000), a mark first achieved in 2017 by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with a net worth of $112 billion in a report issued in early 2018.[1][2] The American business magazine Forbes produces a global list of known U.S. dollar billionaires every year and updates an Internet version of this list in real time.[3] The American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller became the world's first confirmed U.S. dollar billionaire in 1916, and still holds the title of history's wealthiest individual.[4]

As of 2018, there are over 2,200 U.S. dollar billionaires worldwide, with a combined wealth of over US$9.1 trillion,[5] up from US$7.67 trillion in 2017.[6][7] According to a 2017 Oxfam report, the top eight richest billionaires own as much combined wealth as "half the human race".[8][9]

Current U.S. dollar billionaires

According to the Forbes report released in March 2017, there are currently 2,043 U.S. dollar billionaires worldwide, from 66 countries, with a combined net worth of $7.67 trillion, which is more than the combined GDP of 152 countries.[7] The majority of billionaires are male, as fewer than 11% (197 of 1,826) on the 2015 list were female billionaires.[11] In 2015, there were ten openly LGBT billionaires. The United States has the largest number of billionaires of any country, with 536 as of 2015,[11] while China, India and Russia are home to 213, 90 and 88 billionaires respectively.[12][13] As of 2015, only 46 billionaires were under the age of 40,[11] while the list of American-only billionaires, as of 2010, had an average age of 66.[14]

In 2019 there are now a record 607 billionaires in the U.S. That includes 14 of the world's 20 richest. Jeff Bezos is again number 1 in the world, followed by Bill Gates at number 2.[15]

Billionaires who own the same wealth as half the world

According to a 2016 Oxfam report, the wealth of the poorest 95% dropped by 38% between 2010 and 2015, thanks to an increase in the global population of 400 million.[16] In the same period, the wealth of the richest 62 people between the World's Billionaires increased by $500bn (£350bn) to $1.76tn. This number has fallen dramatically from 388 as recently as 2010. More recently, in 2017 an Oxfam report noted that just eight billionaires have as much net worth as "half the human race".[8][9] However, the Oxfam report has been criticized for considering debt as negative wealth, which leads to wealthy people with large amounts of debt to be considered poor or not wealthy.[17]

Rise of new members

In 2019, 19 people became billionaires. Four of the members joined as a result of death or divorce, including Julia Koch and Jeff Bezos's ex-wife Mackenzie Bezos. [18]


The table below lists numerous statistics relating to billionaires, including the total number of known billionaires and the net worth of the world's wealthiest individual for each year since 2008. Data for each year is from the annual Forbes list of billionaires, with currency figures given in U.S. dollars. Data since 2018 also includes the Wealth-X billionaire census which typically finds higher numbers than Forbes.

YearTotal number of
Combined wealth of
known billionaires
Number of billionairesWorld's wealthiest
net worth
2019[19][20]2,153-2,604$8.6-$8.7 trillion609-705285-32498-10282-106Jeff Bezos $131 billion
2018[6][5]2,208-2,754$9.1-$9.2 trillion585-680338-37296-111117-119Jeff Bezos$133 billion
2017[7]2,043$7.71 trillion565319106101Jeff Bezos $99.6 billion
20161,810$6.48 trillion5402517590 Bill Gates $75 billion
2015[12]1,826$7.05 trillion5362138888Bill Gates$79.2 billion
2014[21]1,645$6.4 trillion49215211156[22]Bill Gates$78 billion
2013[23]1,426$5.4 trillion442122110Carlos Slim$73 billion
2012[24]1,226$4.6 trillion4259596Carlos Slim$73 billion
2011[25]1,210$4.5 trillion413115101Carlos Slim$74 billion
2010[26]1,011$3.6 trillion4048962Carlos Slim$53.5 billion
2009[27]793$2.4 trillion3592832Bill Gates$40 billion
2008[28]1,125$4.4 trillion47087Warren Buffett$62 billion

See also


  1. Communications, Forbes Corporate. "Forbes' 32nd Annual World's Billionaires Issue". Forbes. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  2. "Jeff Bezos Is Worth $112 Billion, Overtaking Bill Gates as the Richest Man in the World". Maxim. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  3. Miller, Matthew; Kroll, Luisa (10 March 2010). "Bill Gates No Longer World's Richest Man". Forbes. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  4. O'Donnell, Carl (11 July 2014). "The Rockefellers: The Legacy Of History's Richest Man". Forbes. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  5. "Number of billionaires worldwide surged to 2,754 in 2017". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  6. Kroll, Luisa (6 March 2018). "Forbes Billionaires 2018: Meet The Richest People On The Planet". Forbes. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  7. Kroll, Luisa; Dolan, Kerry A. "Forbes 2017 billionaires list: Meet the richest people on the planet". Forbes. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  8. Ratcliff, Anna (16 January 2017). "Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world". Oxfam. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  9. Mullany, Gerry (16 January 2017). "World's 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half of Global Population". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  10. "Trends in Family Wealth, 1989 to 2013". Congressional Budget Office. 18 August 2016.
  11. "Behind the Numbers in Forbes' Billionaires List". U.S. News & World Report. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  12. "Inside The 2015 Forbes Billionaires List: Facts And Figures". Forbes. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  13. "A Record 90 Indians On Forbes Billionaires List 2015". Forbes. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  14. Rappeport, Alan (9 March 2011). "Brics becoming billionaire factory". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  15. “Billionaires-The Richest People In The World” (March 5, 2019)
  16. "62 people own same as half world – Oxfam". Oxfam.
  17. {{cite web|title=Are 26 billionaires worth more than half the planet? The debate, explained.|url=[[Vox}}
  18. "Newcomers: These 19 Billionaires Join the Forbes 400 List in 2019". Forbes. 3 October 2019. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  19. "Billionaires 2019". Forbes. 5 March 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  20. Dhiraj, Amarendra (16 May 2019). "Top 15 countries with the most billionaires, ranked". Business Insider. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  21. "Billionaires". Forbes. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  22. "Indian Billionaires 2014: Big Winners, Big Losers". Forbes. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  23. "Inside The 2013 Billionaires List". Forbes. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  24. "Forbes World's Billionaires 2012". Forbes. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  25. "World's Billionaires 2011: A Record Year In Numbers, Money And Impact". Forbes. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  26. "Bill Gates No Longer World's Richest Man". Forbes. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  27. "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  28. "World's Billionaires". Forbes. 5 March 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2012.

Further reading

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