Who hasn’t thought about what life would be like with a billion dollars? It’s easy to fantasize about private jets, multimillion-dollar homes, and total financial freedom to spend your time on what makes you happiest, and these daydreams aren’t just in our heads. The dream of great wealth comes to life through TV shows like Succession and pop music about being rich.
At 30 years old, America’s youngest billionaire is Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snapchat. God Nisanov is the 527th richest person in the world and has made his fortune in real estate development by building shopping malls, hotels and more mainly in Russia. Nisanov is worth about $3.5 billion, according to Forbes’ list of billionaires. John Paul Getty made a lot of money from the oil industry and was the richest man in the world in 1957, according to Forbes.
That includes 169 “one-year miracles,” newcomers to the 2021 rankings, including Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd and Peloton’s John Foley, who debuted a year ago and has already fallen off the list. Between Forbes’ billionaire rankings in 2020 and 2021, Fast Facts 61 people lost their billionaire status. Among the notable billionaires who left the list is reality star-turned-entrepreneur Kylie Jenner. The coronavirus pandemic widened the wealth gap, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
Nearly 30% of billionaires don’t have a college degree, far more than any other educational background. The most common area of university education was finance and economics, which contributed only to a combined 15.5% of multi-billion dollar education. There is little correlation between a university and becoming a billionaire.
The empire also produced more than half of the world’s salt and gold, hence the money. When Forbes began its multimillion-dollar following in 1987, the world’s richest person was worth $20 billion. At the time of the 2021 ranking, the richest person in the world was worth $177 billion. Wealthy private equity managers use a loophole to pay the lowest tax rate of 23.8% on capital gains on the compensation they receive for managing other people’s money.
Despite popular stories of billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg leaving Harvard University to start Facebook, only 14% of billionaires drop out of college. However, we also note that only a third of billionaires come from the Ivy League. This essential statistic shows that influential entrepreneurs can come from any style of education, regardless of the name on a college jersey shirt. In the field of education, there is no plan for what a billionaire creates. Only 6% of billionaires have a PhD, and 16% have just finished high school.
According to the UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2019, published in November 2019, there are currently 2,101 billionaires in U.S. dollars worldwide, from 66 countries, with a combined net worth of $8.5 trillion. Most billionaires are men, as less than 11% on the 2015 list were female billionaires. The United States has the highest number of billionaires of any country, with 536 as of 2015, while China, India and Russia home to 213, 90 and 88 billionaires, respectively.
We saw that many of America’s billionaires are older men pursuing traditional careers in finance and investment. However, statistics on early jobs, different levels of education, and new money in technology indicate that a new generation of wealth is underway. To increase our insights, we analyzed the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest people1 to find the top 50 U.S. billionaires, based on wealth. After compiling the list, we looked at different demographic factors for each billionaire, such as age, gender, educational background, and even their early jobs. In the end, we found some extremely telling trends in the breakdown of America’s richest people. If we look deeply at the wealthiest Americans, we can better understand what backgrounds the ultra-rich came from, what life choices drove their success, and how they could continue to build their wealth.
Data from 2018 also includes the Wealth-X count of billionaires, which generally finds higher numbers than Forbes. Different authorities use different methodologies to determine and classify wealth, and not all personal financial information is publicly available. In 2019, Forbes counted a record number of 607 billionaires in the United States. Over the course of the 2020s, depending on the source and the year, it has been calculated that the richest person in the world is Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and his family or Elon Musk. Musk’s rapid rise to the top of the billionaire ladder happened almost overnight, in October 2021, thanks to a pandemic-induced tech stock boom, with Tesla stock jumping to a nearly $10 billion a day rise.