In this article, we take a look at the 25 richest countries with the most billionaires. You can skip our detailed analysis of billionaires’ effects on the economy and go directly to the 10 Richest Countries with the Most Billionaires.
Many of the world’s billionaires’ wealth supersedes some countries’ entire GDPs combined. For example, as we note in another article, it would have taken 15 Monacos, the country with the highest GDP per Capita in the world, to equal the net worth of India’s top billionaire Gautam Adani, despite India having a very low GDP per Capita.
However, this was prior to the release of the recent Hindenburg Research report, after which Adani’s net worth fell by $50 billion. The report highlighted alleged corporate irregularities, stock manipulation and accounting fraud by the Adani Empire, leading to a huge stock sell-off by investors.
The majority of the billionaires around the world have their wealth tied to equity ownership in public companies. In this sense, their wealth often reflects the sentiment in the stock market.
For instance, billionaires got richer during the pandemic, with the US billionaires seeing their wealth increase by 70%. This resulted from the stock market recovering and adding gains during the same time due to economic stimulus measures by the government.
However, following that period, central banks around the world started hiking interest rates to bring down inflation that had resulted from the “overcorrection” in stimulus packages and increased energy prices, resulting in another downturn in global markets.
The market downturn, along with billionaires’ individual choices, led to the world’s top 500 richest billionaires losing $1.4 trillion in a year, with Elon Musk leading the way, losing a record $182 billion, the most wealth an individual has ever lost in history.
Are Billionaires Good or Bad For the Economy?
Billionaires’ wealth is an emergent property of a high-performing economy, as we’ve shown above. Billionaires often fully, or in part, own large corporations which employ a large number of people. Billionaires also often invest in new businesses, which assists them in scaling up. In this regard, they’re responsible for job creation.
Their profit motive also leads to incentivization of cost-effective means to operate companies while innovating to create new markets. All these factors are responsible for economic growth.
However, all of this holds true only for countries with free markets and rule of law. In countries like Russia, the inequality created by billionaires’ wealth is often macroeconomically unproductive due to crony capitalism, according to research from Villanova and Columbia University.
Speaking of which, another argument against concentration of wealth in the hands of a few individuals has to do with the impact of their financial power at the microeconomic level.
For instance, Elon Musk’s 2018 tweet about taking Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) private with $420 per share, saw Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) gaining 10% in market value. He later backtracked from the announcement, calling it a “joke” but it had caused Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) investors a loss of $12 billion over 10 days.
Elon Musk was later charged by the SEC, leading to him reaching a settlement and stepping down as Tesla chairman and paying a fine. However, these measures have been criticized as ‘slaps on the wrist’.
The Adani-Group-focused Hindenburg Research report we have cited above is another example of ill microeconomic practices.
In essence, billionaires are good for the economy in a free market and under rule of law, but they can have a negative microeconomic impact.
There are 2,688 billionaires in the world as of 2023, concentrated mostly in countries like the US, China and India, with significant stake in major companies. For instance, US billionaire Jeff Bezos has a 10% ownership stake in Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). On the other hand, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg has a 13.6% stake in Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) as of 2021.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) are two of the biggest tech companies in the US.
Below, we list the 25 richest countries with the most billionaires.
For our list, we’ve considered the number of billionaires in a country as of the year 2022. We’ve sourced data from Forbes. The list is ranked in ascending order of number of billionaires.
Number of Billionaires: 19
Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia. As of 2021, the country has a GDP of $373 billion. Malaysia is home to 19 billionaires, with a combined wealth of $64.5 billion as of 2022. The top two billionaires include Robert Kuok and Quek Leng Chan, with respective net worths of $11 and $10.1 billion.
Number of Billionaires: 20
The Philippines is another country located in Southeast Asia, and is home to 20 billionaires, with the most prominent being the six Sy siblings, which have a combined net worth of $12.6 billion as of 2022. The siblings run the SM Investments Corporation, the largest conglomerate in the country.
Number of Billionaires: 24
Turkey has a GDP of $800 billion as of 2021. In 2022, the country had 24 billionaires, with Yıldız Holding CEO Murat Ülker being the top billionaire, with a net worth of $4.7 billion. Turkey’s market is booming with native as well as foreign companies. For instance, it hosts major US companies like Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Number of Billionaires: 26
Singapore is one of the richest countries with one of the highest number of billionaires as of 2022, at 26. Li Xiting is the richest billionaire in the country, with a net worth of $15.6 billion in the same year. He is the founder and chairman of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics.
Number of Billionaires: 27
Spain has a GDP of $1.4 trillion as of 2021. The country is home to 27 billionaires, with the richest billionaire being Amancio Ortega, with a net worth of $77 billion as of 2022. Ortega is the founder of the world-renowned retailer, ZARA. He also owns a 59% stake in Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer company.
Number of Billionaires: 28
Thailand is also located in Southeast Asia. Despite the country having a smaller GDP than Spain, Thailand is home to many billionaires because the country attracts rich expats and has a favorable business environment.
Number of Billionaires: 30
Israel is the most advanced country in the Middle East. As of Q2, 2022, the country is home to 30 billionaires. Israel has a GDP of $488.5 billion as of 2021.
Number of Billionaires: 30
Indonesia is home to 30 billionaires as of 2022, with the most prominent being the brothers, R. Budi and Michael Hartano, with a combined net worth of $48 billion. The brothers are the co-owners of Djarum Group, a tobacco company and brand, producing almost 20% of Cigarettes in Indonesia.
Number of Billionaires: 40
Japan is the third biggest economy in the world after the US and China, with a GDP of $5 trillion as of 2021. The country has a low number of billionaires relative to its massive economy for a number of reasons.
Japan’s culture prioritizes stability over high return on equity. Other reasons include high taxes, low stock market valuations and strict inheritance tax laws.
16. South Korea
Number of Billionaires: 41
South Korea has a GDP of $1.8 trillion as of 2021, and the country is home to 41 billionaires as of 2022, with the richest two being Kim Beom-su and Jay Y. Lee, with respective net worths of $9.6 and 9.2 billion.
The former is the founder and chairman of Kakao, an internet technology company, while the latter is the executive chairman of Samsung Electronics, one of the largest electronics companies in the world.
Number of Billionaires: 41
Switzerland has a GDP of $801 billion as of 2021, with the country being home to 41 billionaires as of 2022. Switzerland’s business friendly policies like a low corporate tax rate of 8.5% makes it an attractive country for the ultra rich.
Number of Billionaires: 43
France is one of the richest countries in the number of billionaires in 2023. The country has a GDP of $3 trillion. The richest billionaire in the country – Bernard Arnault – is also the richest billionaire in the world in 2023. Arnault is the CEO of LVMH, the biggest luxury brand in the world, with a 2022 revenue of $86 billion.
Number of Billionaires: 45
Sweden is a Scandinavian country, with a GDP of $636 billion, with Stefen Persson being the richest person in the country, with a net worth of $15 billion.
Number of Billionaires: 46
Australia is the richest country in Oceania. As of 2022, the country has 46 billionaires and a GDP of $1.5 trillion.
11. United Kingdom
Number of Billionaires: 49
The UK has 49 billionaires as of 2022, with the richest billionaire being the owner of INEOS Chemicals Group, James Ratcliffe, with a 2023 net worth of $16 billion.
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Disclosure: none. 25 Richest Countries with the Most Billionaires is originally published on Insider Monkey.