Billionaires are being demoted to millionaires in most of the world’s 15 wealthiest countries


Where does a billionaire like to call home? For many, it’s probably a nondescript multimillion villa with sleek marble counters and hidden appliances they never use. But where that mansion is located depends on the billionaire. In its latest Billionaire Census, data intelligence company Altrata looked at Wealth-X’s database of ultrawealthy individuals to examine the state of the world’s billionaire class today. Its research found that three-quarters of the cohort are concentrated across 15 countries. 

Yet 11 of these countries are losing their billionaires. It’s likely that some are on the move to another country, while others are falling out of the 10-figure club altogether. The billionaire population has declined overall by 3.5%, the report found, losing a cumulative $11.1 trillion in wealth—a 5.5% drop. That comes after billionaires experienced a surge in wealth during the first couple years of the pandemic.  

The United States is home to the most billionaires—955 (30% of the global billionaire population), worth a collective $4.2 trillion (38% of total billionaire wealth worldwide). Despite being the top dog, the U.S. saw a 2.1% decline in billionaires—less than the global average, but higher than eight of the top 15 countries. 

That’s not as big as drop as China’s 10% drop, the largest of any country on the list. The report attributes the decline to “sliding equities, COVID lockdowns, real estate strains, and a subdued economy.” It’s significant enough that it’s widened the wealth gap between the country and the U.S., but China still ranks second on the list.

Meanwhile, Germany (number three) was the European country that fared best by billionaire standards. Despite the impact from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country still only experienced a slightest fall in its billionaire population, though those billionaires experienced a near 8% decrease in cumulative wealth. The country still has the largest population of billionaires in all of Europe, ranking third on the list, followed by the U.K., which also saw its billionaire population drop.

So, too, did India, which ranks fifth. It seems as if billionaires are dropping like golden flies in every country except for Russia and Singapore, both of which saw an increase in billionaires by 4.7% and 8%, respectively. While Russia’s invasion caused ripples in other countries, magnets in the country seem to have rebounded from imposed sanctions, as Forbes reports.

But despite many countries experiencing a decline in billionaires, the actual wealth of billionaires increased in some countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. “Given a broad downturn in global capital markets, this illustrates the diversity of billionaires’ wealth holdings at an individual and country level, and the very uneven impact of geopolitical events on different wealth markets,” the report reads.

The existence of billionaires in general speaks volumes to global income inequality. In the U.S., it increased for the first time in 10 years, according to Census data from 2021. It’s since plateaued a bit, but still remains a large issue both in the U.S. and across the world. Lenient taxes make it so that billionaires profit and proliferate, explains Bob Lord, a tax lawyer and senior advisor regarding tax policy for the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of high-net-worth individuals pushing for greater taxes on the wealthy, for Fortune: Only 40 years ago, there were just 13 billionaires in the U.S. Now, many billionaires ranging from Warren Buffett to Charles Koch are worth more than the cash balance in the Treasury Department, points out the New York Times.

So even if the pandemic heights of their wealth might slowly be falling, billionaires are still doing just fine. Here are the countries with the most billionaires, and how many billionaires they actually have:

1. United States: 955

2. China: 357

3. Germany: 173

4. United Kingdom: 114

5. India: 113

6 (TIE). Russia: 112

6 (TIE). Hong Kong: 112

8. Switzerland: 110

9. Saudi Arabia: 71

10. Italy: 67

11. France: 65

12. Canada: 56

13. Singapore: 54

14. Brazil: 48

15. United Arab Emirates: 45

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