There were 2,604 billionaires in the world at the end of 2018, down 5.4% from the previous year. The combined wealth of all the billionaires on the planet also declined by 7% last year due to global trade tensions, heightened market volatility, and a slowdown in economic growth. Here we take a look at the top 10 countries with the most billionaires.
Ranked: Countries with the most billionaires
Wealth-X has published its 2019 Billionaire Census, offering insights into the changing structure of the billionaire population, the status of the world’s wealthiest people, and “emerging trends for future wealth creation.” The world’s wealthiest 2,604 individuals held $8.6 trillion of combined wealth. According to Wealth-X, it was only the second time the number of billionaires as declined since the global financial crisis a decade ago.
10 (tie)- United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates had 55 billionaires at the end of 2018, down 11.3% compared to the previous year. Their combined net worth also declined 1.6% YoY to $165 billion despite an expanding economy and strong performance by equity markets.
10 (tie)- France
According to Wealth-X, France also has 55 billionaires with a combined wealth of $195 billion. Though the wealth of billionaires declined by 6.1% compared to the previous year, France is one of the few countries where the number of billionaires went up. Bernard Arnault of luxury goods giant LVMH is the richest person in France with a net worth of $88.5 billion.
9- Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia witnessed a steep decline in billionaire population and their wealth despite a growing economy and favorable equity markets. There were 57 billionaires in Saudi Arabia in 2018, down 8.1% from the previous year. Their total wealth also fell 13.2% to $147 billion. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, founder of Kingdom Holding, is the richest individual in Saudi Arabia with a net worth of $14.7 billion.
The number of billionaires in India fell 21.2% while their combined wealth declined by 4.9% in 2018. The volatile equity markets and a weakening rupee against the dollar reduced the billionaire population in the country. India has 82 billionaires with a combined net worth of $284 billion. Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries is the wealthiest person in India with a net worth of $49.5 billion.
7- Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous, special administrative region (SAR) of China. As per Wealth-X, it has 87 billionaires whose combined net worth stands at $259 billion. The billionaire population in Hong Kong declined by 6.5% while their wealth shrank 17.5%. Real estate tycoon Li Ka-Shing is the wealthiest person in Hong Kong with a net worth of $30.8 billion.
Switzerland is one of the wealthiest and happiest nations in the world. It is home to 91 billionaires whose combined net worth stood at $240 billion. The billionaire population in Switzerland declined by 8.1% last year. Ernesto Bertarelli is the wealthiest person in the country with a net worth of $16 billion.
5- United Kingdom
Despite the Brexit-related worries, the billionaire population in the United Kingdom went up from 90 in 2017 to 97 in 2018. However, their combined wealth declined by 16.6% to $209 billion amid weakening asset markets. Sir Jim Ratcliffe was the richest individual, having a net worth of $18.7 billion.
Russia was one of the few countries to see a rise in its billionaire population, driven by the modest economic recovery and increased commodity output. It had 102 billionaires at the end of 2018 with a combined wealth of $355 billion. Leonid Mikhelson of gas giant Novatek was the richest individual in Russia with a net worth of $21.6 billion.
Germany witnessed a 3.9% decline in billionaire population due to weaker than expected corporate earnings and poor performance by equity markets. There were 146 billionaires in Germany in 2018. Their combined wealth stood at $442 billion, down 5.1% from the previous year. Dieter Schwarz of Schwarz Group is the wealthiest individual in Germany with a net worth of $23.6 billion.
In the last few years, China has been rapidly closing the gap with the US in terms of billionaire population. But 2018 was not a particularly good year for the wealthy people in China. The country witnessed a 15.7% decline in its billionaire population. China had 285 billionaires in 2018 with a total wealth of $996 billion. Alibaba founder Jack Ma was the richest man in China with a net worth of $41.8 billion.
1- United States
The US is home to the highest number of billionaires on the planet. Its billionaire population rose 3.7% in 2018 to 705. They had a combined wealth of $3.013 trillion, down 4.9% compared to the previous year. The total net worth of American billionaires is higher than the billionaire wealth of the next eight countries in this list combined. The US equities have performed well compared to other equity markets.
Wealth-X pointed out that the world’s billionaire population is increasingly congregating in a handful of cities. The report also revealed that philanthropy was the biggest hobby or passion of billionaires.